Dry Skin and Eczema
Those red, itchy and totally obnoxious patches on your skin might reveal something unknown about your health. These patches are like nagging red flags and the key to make them disappear is to figure out what exactly is causing them.
Those who have battled dry skin and eczema all their life most likely have a type called atopic dermatitis which is genetic. If you are experiencing your first flare-up as an adult, chances are you have another variety caused by an external irritant and a dermatologist can identify what triggers it and help you keep it under control. Common type of culprits are Contact Dermatitis and Nummular Dermatitis.
Your Eczema might be speaking to you! Here are 6 things it might be trying to tell you:
You have seasonal allergies
It is very common for people with Eczema to have flare-ups during the summer months when the pollen levels are at their highest. Dermatologists encourage patients to resist the urge to itch as itching your patches will make your skin even more inflamed and irritated. They advise to apply hydro-cortisone cream and gentle, fragrance-free moisturizers. Preventing and reducing flares is really about repairing the barrier function of the skin. This means minimizing things that can strip the skin, like harsh cleansers and hot eater in the bath or shower, and helping to maintain and sustain the water that is already in the skin.
It’s time to change your soap or laundry detergent
Skin irritants, such as itchy clothing, harsh cleansers, or even sweat can and will trigger the inflammatory cascade that leads to Eczema. The first step to determining possible triggers is to avoid common irritants such as strong soaps, wool, and fragrances. Your dermatologist can help eliminate the guesswork by doing patch testing to identify reactions to specific allergens. Some of the most common offenders are metals, fragrance, certain types of preservatives, and antibiotics found in topical ointments such as Benadryl and Neosporin.
You have a food allergy or intolerance
A lot of time flare-ups are caused by an allergy reaction or intolerance to a specific type of food. If you suspect that your diet is to blame, it is recommended to visit an allergist. They can perform an oral food challenge in a supervised setting. Balancing gut bacteria with fermented foods and probiotics can also help control inflammation and eczema flares. It is also recommended to take supplements with vitamin D and zinc, which modulate the immune system and the body’s inflammatory response.
Stress, Stress, Stress
Stress is not good for your health! And it is especially not good for Eczema. Eczema almost always flares during stress. Patients often note that as they get more tense, their skin gets itchier. Keep this in mind!
Your skin needs love and by love we mean MOISTURE!
Dry air sucks the moisture out of the skin. This is why it is very common for Eczema flare-ups to occur during cold weather. It is important to cover all areas of exposed skin during the colder months, just like you cover up for the sun. Even when you are not outside, cranking up the what in your home can have a similar effect. Running a humidifier can restore moisture to the air around you and help ease symptoms. It is recommended to set your humidifier below 60% humidity, otherwise condensed moisture can lead to harmful bacteria growth. To help with the Winter bouts of Eczema, it is suggested to take a 10 minute warm, NOT HOT, shower and washing the skin with a gentle cleanser.
Infection and Underlying condition
It is very rare, but in some cases a bacterial infection can cause a flare-up, as well as more serious complications. Though Eczema doesn’t typically signal a deeper issue, it is best to be safe and see your doctor if your skin condition isn’t improving with minor treatment.
Eczema is a term for a group of medical conditions that cause the skin to become inflamed or irritated. There are different types of Eczema. The most common type of Eczema is known as Atopic Dermatitis. Eczema affects about 20 % of infants and about 3 % of adults in the US.
Symptoms of Eczema
Eczema is almost always itchy, no matter which part of the skin is affected. A lot of times the itching will start even before the rash appears. The most common areas that will be affected by the Eczema rash are the face, back of the knees, wrists, hands, and feet. It may also affect other areas of your body. One of the most common signs is that the affected areas will normally appear very dry, thickened, or scaly. In those with fair skin, these areas may initially appear reddish and then turn brown. In those with darker skin, eczema can affect pigmentation, making the affected area lighter or darker.
What is the cause of eczema
The exact cause of Eczema is unknown, but it is thought to be linked to an overactive response by the body’s immune system to an irritant. Because of this response, the symptoms of Eczema occur. Eczema can be commonly found in families with a history of allergies and asthma. Although there is no cure, Eczema can be effectively managed with medical treatment and by avoiding irritants. Eczema is not contagious.
How is Eczema diagnosed
You can be examined and diagnosed by a pediatrician, dermatologist, or your primary care provider. Your doctor most often can tell if you have Eczema by looking at your skin and by asking a few questions. Your doctor may also perform a series of allergy tests to determine possible irritants and triggers. Children with eczema are especially likely to be tested for allergies.
The main goal for treatment is to relieve and prevent itching because itching can lead to infection. Since the disease makes skin dry and itchy, lotions and creams are recommended to keep your skin moist. Cold compresses may also be used.