The most common form of eczema is called atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema. The term atopic refers to a group of diseases associated with other allergic issues, such as asthma and hay fever. Approximately 10% to 20% of infants are affected by eczema, but most outgrow the skin condition before they become adults. Unfortunately, about 3% of adults do end up suffering from the disease in the United States.
The most common areas of the eczema rash occur on the face, back of the knees, wrists, hands, and feet. The affected areas are itchy, and sometimes the itching will start before the rash appears. On the areas of your body that are affected, the rash will typically appear very dry with skin that looks thick or scaly. For fair-skinned people, the rash may look reddish and then turn brown. Meanwhile, for darker-skinned people the rash may appear lighter in color because eczema can affect skin pigmentation. Infants experiencing eczema typically develop oozing, crusting patches on the face and scalp, but it can be on other parts of the body as well.
Causes of Eczema
The actual cause of eczema is unknown, but dermatology experts believe it is an overactive response of the immune system to irritants. Eczema is not contagious and cannot be spread to other people.
There are usually triggers that cause an eczema outbreak, such as coming in contact with course materials, household products like soap or detergent, animal dander, stress, and respiratory infections or colds.
There is no cure for eczema, but it can be managed effectively with medical treatment and avoiding the irritants that trigger flare-ups. There are not any tests to confirm eczema, but your Lynchburg, VA dermatologist will be able to diagnose the condition by looking at your skin and asking questions about your medical history.
The primary goal of eczema treatment is to prevent itching to avoid infection. There are over-the-counter products, such as hydrocortisone 1% cream, that can be effective for some people. Additionally, people with eczema need to keep the skin moist with lotions and creams to reduce itching. It is best to apply moisturizer right after a bath or shower to help the skin retain moisture. Dermatologists also recommend the following tips to lessen the severity of an eczema outbreak:
- Frequently moisturize
- Avoid sudden changes in temperature and humidity
- Avoid sweating and overheating
- Reduce your stress
- Avoid scratchy materials, such as wool
- Avoid harsh soaps, detergents, and solvents
- Be aware of any foods that may cause an outbreak and avoid those foods
- Use a humidifier in the room where you sleep
Other treatments that your dermatologist may recommend include prescription steroid creams or ointments, antihistamines, phototherapy, and in more severe cases, cyclosporine. There are also two other drugs approved by the FDA that dermatologists may use when nothing else works. These are topical immunomodulators that work by changing the immune system’s response to prevent flare-ups. Dermatologists are cautious with these drugs, as they do come with risks.
Contact Your Lynchburg, VA, Dermatologist Today!
If you are suffering from eczema, contact us to set up an appointment. As the leading dermatology practice in Lynchburg, VA and Forest, VA, our dermatology experts can help you find relief from your eczema dilemma!