Eczema Treatment Options
Don't let your skin condition hold you back. At Allergy, Asthma & Sinus Center in Hillsborough, New Jersey, we offer different treatments for those living with eczema. When you visit us, you will experience relief from your condition.
Dealing with Eczema
Eczema is a general term encompassing various inflamed skin conditions. One of the most common forms of eczema is atopic dermatitis, or “atopic eczema.” This chronic, relapsing, and very itchy rash at some point affects approximately 10 percent to 20 percent of the world population during childhood. Fortunately, many children with eczema find that the disease clears and often disappears with age.
When not treated properly, eczema can lead to scarring and hyper or hypopigmentation of the skin. If you’ve had too many sleepless nights due to itching with no help from over-the-counter medicines, it is time for expert intervention. At our clinic, we have been treating skin conditions for more than 20 years, and we can teach you the triggers you need to avoid and how to properly care for your skin to get the relief you deserve.
Although eczema may look different from person to person, dry, red, extremely itchy patches on the skin most often characterize it. Eczema is sometimes referred to as “the itch that rashes,” since the itch, when scratched, results in the appearance of the rash.
Many substances have been identified as itch “triggers” in patients with eczema, and triggers are not the same for every person. In many situations, it is difficult to identify the exact trigger that causes a flare-up. For some, it seems that rough or coarse materials meeting the skin causes itchiness. For others, feeling too hot and/or sweating will cause an outbreak. Other people find that certain soaps, detergents, disinfectants, contact with juices from fresh fruits and meats, dust mites, and animal saliva and danders may trigger itching. Upper respiratory infections (caused by viruses) may also be triggers. Stress can also sometimes aggravate an existing flare-up.
Eczema occurs in both children and adults, but usually appears during infancy. Although there is no known cause for the disease, it often affects people with a family history of allergies. Those who are genetically predisposed and then exposed to environmental triggers may develop eczema. Many people who have eczema also suffer from allergic rhinitis and asthma, or have family members who do.
Common Signs of Eczema
The National Institutes of Health estimates that 15 million people in the United States have some form of eczema. About 10 percent to 20 percent of all infants have eczema; however, in nearly half of these children, the disease will improve greatly by the time they are between 5 and 15 years of age. Others will have some form of the disease throughout their lives.
Eczema outbreaks can usually be avoided with some simple precautions. The following suggestions may help to reduce the severity and frequency of flare-ups:
- Moisturize Frequently
- Avoid Sudden Changes in Temperature or Humidity
- Avoid Sweating or Overheating
- Reduce Stress
- Avoid Scratchy Fabrics & Materials
- Avoid Harsh Soaps, Detergents, and Solvents
- Avoid Environmental Factors That Trigger Allergies
- Be Aware of Any Foods That May Cause an Outbreak & Avoid Those Foods
Treating Your Condition
In general, atopic dermatitis will come and go, often based on external factors. Although its cause is unknown, the condition appears to be an abnormal response of the body’s immune system. In people with eczema, the inflammatory response to irritating substances overacts, causing itching and scratching. Eczema is not contagious and, like many diseases, currently cannot be cured. However, for most patients the condition may be managed well with proper allergy care and avoidance of triggers.
Eczema can occur on just about any part of the body; however, in infants, eczema typically occurs on the forehead, cheeks, forearms, legs, scalp, and neck. In children and adults, eczema typically occurs on the face, neck, and the insides of the elbows, knees, and ankles. In some people, eczema may “bubble up” and ooze. In others, the condition may appear more scaly, dry, and red. Chronic scratching causes the skin to take on a leathery texture because the skin thickens (lichenification).
One of the most important components of an eczema treatment routine is to prevent scratching. Because eczema is usually dry and itchy, the most common treatment is the application of lotions or creams to keep the skin as moist as possible. These treatments are generally most effective when applied directly after bathing (within three minutes is a common recommendation) so that the moisture from the bath is “locked in.” Cold compresses applied directly to itchy skin can also help relieve itching.
Contact us to learn more about our eczema treatment options. We are available to meet with patients throughout Bridgewater, Clinton, and Hillsborough, New Jersey.