Over 30 million people in the US live with eczema. Still, being among plenty of company doesn’t make the symptoms – inflamed, red skin, and constant itching – any more bearable. Eczema is not contagious, though it can appear to be so. October is Eczema Awareness Month, and the perfect time to offer a guide to living with this common and chronic skin condition.
Besides the dry, flaky appearance, the frustrating itch is enough to drive any child or adult to distraction. For many, eczema starts before the age of five years old. For others, onset comes in adulthood.
The experienced dermatological staff at Specialists in Dermatology PLLC are conveniently located at two offices in Tucson and also in Green Valley, AZ, to serve patients with eczema and other skin-related maladies. Here are some ways our experts recommend managing your eczema to live a better life.
Get the facts about eczema
When your skin is healthy, it holds in the necessary moisture and forms a barrier to keep out allergens, viruses, irritants, and bacteria. Eczema gets in the way of your skin’s ability to provide this important barrier.
There are several types of eczema, and it is possible to have more than one. The most common is atopic dermatitis (AD). This type is usually a long-term condition, and often begins soon after birth. Atopic dermatitis is well-known for a propensity to disappear and reappear.
It’s also somehow linked to what dermatologists call the “atopic triad,” which includes allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and asthma. It is estimated that about half of children with AD develop hay fever and asthma by age 13.
Symptoms of this popular form of eczema include:
- Random patches of dry, flaky, inflamed skin that sometimes crack
- A red, itchy rash that can appear anywhere, but most commonly on cheeks, arms, and legs
- Open, weeping sores around the rash
Tune in to your triggers
In order to get a handle on your eczema, you must identify any “triggers.” These can be substances or activities that cause your symptoms to appear. Learning these can allow you to better avoid them when possible.
For example, eczema triggers can include:
- Excessive amounts of stress
- Exposure to harsh cleansers, like antibacterial soap or household cleaners
- Long, hot baths or showers
- Perfumes or bath salts
- Very low humidity, typically found in air-conditioned homes in the summer and heated homes in the winter
Be vigilant and record any activities, habits, foods, weather, and anything else you see fit that may be related to your latest eczema flare-up. Avoiding these things can help you narrow down your worst causes and so avoid flareups. If you have questions about your possible triggers, consult with your Specialists in Dermatology PLLC provider.
It may seem impossible to avoid, but scratching the itch from eczema is the easiest way to exacerbate your condition. Scratching further breaks down the already-weakened skin barrier, increasing the risk of bacterial infection and even worse cases of eczema.
Moreover, scratching at your eczema can become a habit, and you can continue scratching at your skin even when no symptoms are present. Over time, this can leave you with leathery, scarred patches of skin.
Conquer the itch
Some home remedies to help prevent itchy eczema flares, include:
- Moisturizing with a product after your shower that helps retain moisture to help heal your skin barrier
- Patting dry after a shower instead of rubbing your skin with a towel
- Taking quick, lukewarm showers
- Avoiding substances and activities that are known triggers for your eczema
Visit your dermatologist
If you know or suspect you or a family member has eczema, call one of our three locations to schedule an eczema evaluation with one of our talented providers. There are medications available to curb the terrible itch, as well as help to repair your skin. More severe cases of eczema may require oral medications, injections, or ultraviolet light treatments
The dermatology experts at Specialists in Dermatology PLLC stay up-to-date on the newest and most effective eczema treatments available. We will work with you to create a treatment plan to help you get control of your eczema and live a better life.