October is National Exzema Awareness month so we thought
it’d be helpful to share a few tips and tricks for treating this
itchy, sometimes painful medical condition.
What is eczema?
The term “eczema” is used to describe a wide set of medical conditions that result in itchy or inflamed skin. More than 30 million Americans are afflicted with eczema, including 10 to 20 percent of all infants and children.
Most kids who suffer from eczema typically outgrow the condition by the time they’re 10 years old, but for some, the itchy skin can precede other allergic conditions. Currently, there is no cure for eczema, but there are treatments and home care tips that can help relieve itching and prevent new outbreaks.
What are the symptoms of eczema?
It’s important to know that eczema symptoms can vary from one patient to the next, but the most common symptom of the condition is itchy skin. While eczema is most common on the face and extremities (i.e. back of the knees, wrists, hands or feet), the condition can cause symptoms anywhere on the body.
Some common symptoms of eczema include:
- Inflamed, red, itchy skin
- Overly sensitive, thick, dry, cracked or scaly skin
- Red or brown patches on the face, arms, and legs
- Tiny bumps, which may ooze fluid and crust/scab over if scratched
- Areas of raw, sensitive, swelling skin
Itch symptoms can range from mild to severe. It’s common for patients to get stuck in the “itch-scratch cycle” – a cycle created by a patient itching the affected area, which increases inflammation and excites the nerves, leading to more itching and more scratching. It’s important to try and minimize scratching, especially with children, because it can lead to open sores and increased risk of infection.
What are the treatments for eczema?
While there is no cure for eczema, there are very effective treatments available to control the disorder including over-the-counter (OTC) medications, prescription topical medications, immunosuppressants, and biologic drugs, with more treatment options being developed all the time.
Some basic guidelines to manage outbreaks of the most common
types of eczema:
- Identify the triggers and exacerbating factors and avoid
them whenever possible
- Implement a consistent daily bathing and moisturizing regimen
- Avoid harsh soaps and detergents
If you or your child experiences discomfort that disrupts your sleep or daily activities or if you develop a skin infection, it is time to see a
Dr. Michael Dreifke is a board-certified dermatologist with Bravia Dermatology who
specializes in medical dermatology, skin cancer screening and treatment, and cosmetic/laser surgery. For more information visit www.braviaderm.com/education.