21 Dec Eczema Flaring Up? We Can Help
Eczema is a very common skin condition which might present with skin that looks red, rough, inflamed, and even cracked. There are many triggers and Spectrum Dermatology sees an influx of patients every winter struggling to control their flare-ups. There are a lot of eczema types, but the most common is atopic dermatitis. Nobody is certain what exactly causes eczema, but over 30 percent of adults have it and we do know that changes in seasons and temperatures can cause a flare-up. In severe cases, eczema can blister and cause permanent scarring, although the condition itself isn’t deemed dangerous. Still, it can be very uncomfortable and you understandably want to avoid scarring if you can (don’t worry, if you already have scarring from eczema or anything else, we can lighten those scars with laser therapy).
Atopic dermatitis is a type of eczema that is caused by our immune system. Although unrelated to the skin (our biggest organ), similar conditions include asthma and hay fever. There are some cases where a young person will outgrow “childhood eczema,” but that isn’t always the case. Similar to allergies, a patient’s eczema can change throughout life. The goal of eczema management is to identify triggers and treat the symptoms.
Know Your Eczema Triggers
In addition to temperature shifts, food is a major trigger for many with eczema. Nuts and dairy can be especially troublesome. Pollen, smoke, and items that touch your skin such as laundry detergent are also all common triggers. Bear in mind that these triggers can change and shift in severity throughout your life. It’s a good idea to have a reputable dermatologist working with you to stay on top of your triggers and offer the best treatments for symptoms.
It’s also common for non-professionals to confuse eczema with other skin conditions. This is why it’s so important to avoid DIY diagnoses. Since eczema symptoms vary quite a bit and age is also a factor, always see your dermatology when you notice something unusual with your skin. Atopic dermatitis is regularly found in infants and may look like a dry or scaly patch. These patches are very itchy, which means your baby is in a lot of discomfort if they go without treatment! Most atopic dermatitis patients are diagnosed before the age of 5, but only half of them continue to experience flare-ups into adulthood.
For atopic dermatitis patients, the most severe outbreaks are typically in childhood. There are also stages of breakouts, usually triggered by unique triggers. Young children can often present with rashes on the scalp and cheeks. They might blister and leak, which leads to itching, scratching, and poor sleep and decreased quality of life. School-aged kids will often have symptoms in body creases like the elbows, knees, buttocks, and neck. At this age, eczema is usually bumpy and can vary in color and thickness. Sometimes eczema can undergo lichenification, which means skin can get thick and turn into knots and even cause permanent itchy sites if left untreated.
As adults, eczema is most often found in the knee creases, elbow creases, and neck. However, bear in mind that eczema can appear anywhere at any age and that sometimes rashes are so severe they cover the entire body.
Get Your Eczema Under Control
After helping to identify your triggers, the next step is treating the symptoms. This can also include skin damage and scarring from old flare-ups. The most common treatment for eczema symptoms is topical corticosteroid creams, an anti-inflammatory medication that reduces eczema appearance and itchiness. Medical-grade products are much better than anything you can find over the counter. There are also systemic corticosteroids, which is more aggressive treatment than the topical approach.
Antibiotics may be necessary if a bacterial skin infection is also present. Antihistamines can help minimize itchiness during the nighttime and a topical calcineurin inhibitor can boost the immune system. Special, medical-grade moisturizers that create a barrier on the skin and keep it moisturized can be extremely helpful, too. Options to treat scarring and hyperpigmentation can range from laser skin rejuvenation to chemical peels and more depending on severity and skin type. To learn more about eczema treatments, schedule an appointment with Spectrum Dermatology by calling 480-948-8400.