Eczema–also known as atopic dermatitis–is a chronic skin problem that affects more than 35 million Americans. Roughly two percent of all adults suffer from eczema, and between ten and twenty percents of children are affected. Unfortunately, the general public still understands surprisingly little about eczema–creating harmful stigmatization and misinformation. That’s why we compiled this brief eczema Q&A.
Q. What are the symptoms of eczema?
A. Eczema typically manifests as dry, itchy patches of the skin in the hands, face, neck, and legs. It can occur anywhere, however–and most children who suffer from eczema see breakouts in their elbows and knees. The other tell-tale symptom of eczema is actually self-inflicted to a certain extend: when these dry, itchy patches are scratched, they tend to turn into scabby sores that may even become infected.
Q. Is there a cure for eczema?
A. Eczema is a chronic problem, and its symptoms can always potentially reappear. However, for childhood sufferers of eczema, symptoms typically disappear for good by adulthood. Even adult patients can generally keep symptoms under control once they find the right treatment and adapt their lifestyles accordingly. It is also worth pointing out that there is certainly a cure for the occasional secondary infections that may arise due to eczema: they are typically treated with antibiotics.
Q. What are the common treatment options for eczema?
A. Because eczema is actually a blanket term covering several different conditions that produce similar symptoms, (and because everyone’s body is unique), there is no one surefire treatment that will control all eczema symptoms for everyone. Instead, it is important to work with a dermatologist in order to develop and perfect and individualized treatment plan. Common treatments for eczema include:
● Oil-based skin moisturizing ointments.
● Prescription and/or over-the-counter steroid creams
● Anti-inflammatory medications and/or Antihistamines
● Elidel and Protopic (new, non-steroid drugs that affect the immune response)
● UV light therapy.
● Bathing with a small amount of bleach added to the water.
Q. How can I avoid eczema flare ups?
A. There are many factors that can lead to eczema flare ups–and, by understanding and minimizing those factors, you may be able to reduce the number of eczema flare ups you experience. Dust and allergens, for example, can play a role in exacerbating eczema symptoms–as can low humidity levels. Keeping the home thoroughly cleaned and moisturized (with the help of a humidifier, if necessary, can help a lot. It is also important to avoid exposure to harsh chemicals such as household cleaners and soaps/shampoos with special fragrances. Choosing clothes that are soft to the touch can even make a difference! Last but not least, staying committed to your treatment routine and regular checkups with your dermatologist are crucial!
If you are suffering from eczema, book an appointment with one of our providers today!