Eczema- Atopic dermatitis

Eczema is a skin condition of dry, itchy inflamed areas of the outer layer of skin. It comes and goes in “flare-ups” and may be triggered by stress, anxiety or environmental factors/ exposures. It also may have a hereditary component and can run in families. Eczema is commonly found in the creases of the elbow and behind knees but may be found on other parts of the body. It is a chronic condition with no cure but treatments are available. Another similar chronic inflammatory skin condition, psoriasis, is often confused with eczema. Unlike eczema, Psoriasis is believed to be an autoimmune disorder (caused by an over-reaction of the immune system) with skin lesions that are thick, scaly whitish to silvery patches or plaques.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Itching, may be worse at night
  • Red to brownish -gray patches found on hands, feet, ankles, wrists, chest, eyelids, behind knees, or inside elbows
  • Small raised bumps may leak fluid causing a crusty appearance
  • Dry, cracked and scaly patches

Treatment:

  • Prescription medications given by a healthcare provider or a dermatologist
  • Over the counter oral antihistamines (loratadine (Claritin), fexofenadine (Allegra), cetirizine (Zyrtec), diphenhydramine (Benadryl)) may help relieve itch. Use as directed. Antihistamines may cause drowsiness, with diphenhydramine (Benadryl) more likely than the other “non-sedating antihistamines” to do this.
  • Cool to warm showers or baths may temporarily relieve discomfort
  • Cool compresses

Prevention:

  • Avoid long hot showers. Keep showers no longer than 10 to 15 minutes using warm water.
  • Apply moisturizers or emollients after every bath or at least twice per day to keep skin hydrated

Avoid triggers that may cause flare-ups if possible such as: strong soaps or detergents, wool or synthetic fibers in clothing, rapid temperature changes, or stress.