06 Jul Treating Eczema Today
Eczema is a skin condition with no cure, but with a variety of treatments that should be personalized just for you by a dermatologist. Spectrum Dermatology is now fully reopened and accepting eczema patients. We are following social distancing guidelines and sanitation practices outlined by local agencies and the CDC for your safety and peace of mind.
Eczema is a chronic, lifelong condition that causes skin to be itchy and dry. Due to the nature of the symptoms, it’s also possible for eczema to develop into an infection if it isn’t managed well. The key to preventing an infection is to work with a dermatologist to develop a skin care routine that minimizes dryness and itchiness. Everyone with eczema will have flare-up periods, but there’s a certain type of flare-up that’s especially prone to infection. If you have pompholyx, also known as dyshidrotic eczema, this causes small blisters on the skin and has a higher risk of infection.
Caring for Skin with Eczema
You’re most likely to find pompholyx on the hands and soles of the feet. Patients over the age of 40 are also more likely to have this form of eczema, and in addition to dry skin and itching it can also feel like a burning sensation. It’s common for the blisters to be filled with fluid, and given the location of the blisters it’s also common for them to “weep.” These blisters can also become bigger without treatment and spread to the limbs. Although any type of blister is generally uncomfortable, a sign that the blisters have become infected is if they become painful.
If you notice that the blisters are coated in a yellow crust or begin to leak pus instead of a clear fluid, those are also signs of an infection. These blisters can be further complicated by a fungal skin infection. However, infections might also occur after coming in contact with a skin irritant, like nickel. Skin irritants also include chemicals in soaps, shampoos, and cosmetics. Sweating and stress also increase the likelihood of infection. For those with this type of eczema, you might know that most blisters clear up by themselves—but an infection can be dangerous. It’s important to see your dermatologist as soon as you notice blisters or any skin condition so that a customized treatment plan (and infection prevention) can be put into place.
According to the National Eczema Association, it’s critical to avoid rubbing or scratching the eczema sites. However, this can be very difficult without prescription creams and ointments. Even those with a strong willpower might unknowingly scratch themselves in their sleep. An antihistamine can help reduce itchiness, and a skin care regimen designed by a dermatologist can increase comfort and moisture of the skin.
Eczema Research to Know
Since eczema has no cure, there are a plethora of studies and research underway to further identify the cases of eczema—and to develop treatments. Recently, researchers at University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute discovered that there’s an enzyme that encourages eczema flare-ups. Eczema makes the skin’s protective barrier break down, which lets in foreign matter that can cause itchiness, dryness, inflammation, and ultimately infections. It’s been estimated that those with eczema avoid social situations, and that the annual cost of eczema is $5.5 billion in North America due to how it affects health and well-being.
The Canadian researchers found that the Granzyme B enzyme breaks down the skin’s barrier by weakening the proteins that keep the cells together. The enzyme has a way of “eating away” at proteins, which exacerbates skin inflammation and itching. Thus far, researchers have suggested “knocking out” the enzyme via a topical gel or genetic modification. However, this particular approach is still very much in the theoretical stage. Nevertheless, there are real clinical trials taking place for eczema right now at Spectrum Dermatology.
Your Eczema Clinical Trial Center
Spectrum Dermatology is committed to helping patients access the latest, most effective treatments—and that includes via clinical trials. We are proud to have a clinical trial site for some of the most cutting-edge research related to skin care. Currently, we are recruiting participants for a clinical trial in eczema treatment. Benefits of participating in these trials include potentially trying out the most innovative treatments before they are available to the public, helping others with eczema achieve relief, and paying nothing out of pocket. In fact, in many cases clinical trials pay participants for their time.
To learn more about the eczema clinical trial at Spectrum Dermatology or to schedule an appointment for eczema, call our office at (480) 948-8400.