Did you know millions of Americans suffer from symptoms of eczema? Commonly known as atopic dermatitis (AD), which is caused by inflammation, and is associated with intense itching and unsightly cracked patchy skin. If you suffer from such symptoms, this could have a detrimental effect on your quality of life. You may find yourself skipping school or work due to loss of sleep caused by itching. You could be avoiding fun activities or sports and may even wear specific types of clothes to hide the affected skin. Here’s a look at how you can determine whether you have eczema, triggers to avoid, and best treatment options.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
You’ll almost always have intense and frequent itching. Be sure to look out for bumpy skin, or rashes that could occur behind your knees, the front of your elbows, your face, neck, legs or hands. Your skin may be chronically dry, flaky and red, and may develop oozing blisters. If you’re prone to scratching, your skin may become patchy with crusty open lesions. You may also experience intermittent flare-ups and symptom remission. If you suspect your child has eczema, be on the lookout for scaling around the eyes, leathery skin, paleness, and excessive folds beneath the eyes.
It’s best to see your dermatologist for a proper diagnosis if you suspect you or a family member has eczema. Lab testing is not required and your dermatologist will be able to diagnose by examining your skin and observing your medical history. Your doctor may also conduct skin patch testing to determine whether you have any other skin conditions.
Eczema Triggers to Avoid
Not everyone has the same triggers, but there are a few common irritants that you should avoid if you or a loved one is prone to eczema. Some of these include certain detergents, perfumes, ill-fitting clothing, sand, dust and synthetic fibers.
Dry air and humidity may also cause flare-ups, or temperatures that are too cold or hot. Elevated stress and anxiety levels are also triggers, so try to keep yours to a minimal. If you have infants at home, remember their skin is more susceptible to irritants than yours.
Over-the-counter (OTC) treatments are common treatment options. You can obtain these without a prescription. Some are ideal for moisturizing dry skin, while others help alleviate rashes, itching and redness. You could also use OTC medications that clean your skin and prevent infection. Bathing with baking soda, oatmeal, salt, or vinegar can also have a soothing effect on irritated skin. Be sure to always moisturize adequately after bathing.
If your dermatologist has diagnosed you, he or she will most likely prescribe topical medications such as calcineurin inhibitors or corticosteroids. You will need to apply this to the affected skin to alleviate intense itching or rashes. Your doctor may prescribe system medication targeted at reducing your immune system’s reaction and inflammation.
Alternative means of treatment include light therapy or phototherapy. Be advised that this cannot be used on infants, as long-term treatment may cause premature skin aging. Treatment involves exposing your skin to controlled amounts of natural light. Practitioners use a narrow band of ultraviolet B (UVB) or ultraviolet A (UVA), sometimes in conjunction with medications. Wet dressing intensive treatment is also effective for severe eczema. This involves wrapping bandages and topical corticosteroids around affected skin.
If you or a loved one suffers from eczema or symptoms of eczema, schedule an appointment with Boulevard Medical today to learn more about your best treatment options.