Eczema / Rashes / Dermatitis Treatment
Eczema is a common skin condition that causes the skin to appear as red, inflamed, irritated, and/or itchy. The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis, and it is particularly diagnosed in infants and young children. It is the most common, chronic, and severe form of eczema, and it occurs in those with other allergic conditions called atopy, such as asthma or hay fever, and who have family history with the same conditions. Although atopic dermatitis can occur anywhere on the body, it is often prevalent on the face, the inside of arms, behind the knees, hands and feet. It is not contagious even with direct skin-to-skin contact. The scalp is frequently affected in infants. Other types of eczema or dermatitis can be caused by dry skin, irritation from chemicals or substances, allergies, and medications, to name a few.
Causes of Eczema
The cause of eczema is unknown but it most often develops as a result of an allergic reaction, or an overactive response by the body’s immune system to an irritant. Certain substances or circumstances can trigger symptoms in susceptible individuals. Exposure to common household products, such as soaps and detergents can cause an outbreak to occur. Patients may also experience reactions as a result of upper respiratory infections, food allergy, or an animal dander. Sometimes, simple things like taking very hot baths or showers can be enough to cause or trigger eczema.
Symptoms of Eczema
Eczema usually appears as a red rash on the skin, and can include the following symptoms: round or indistinct dry patches, raised crusty bumps or patches, blisters that ooze, dry or scaly skin, itching, and skin discoloration can all be signs and symptoms of eczema.
Diagnosis of Eczema
Eczema is diagnosed by physical examination and patient consultation. While there is no test to determine eczema, dermatologists are able to diagnose eczema by looking at the patient’s skin and asking a thorough history, including a family history. Because many people with eczema often have other allergies, allergy tests may be prescribed or performed so that possible triggers can be targeted and avoided.
Treatment of Eczema
There are several treatment regimens and options available to ease the discomfort and signs of eczema. The primary goal of treatment is to relieve and prevent itching, thereby preventing the rash of eczema to worsen or even occur in the first place. It is important to treat eczema symptoms because the condition if unchecked, breaches the integrity of the skin, allowing bacteria to invade and cause infection. Itching has to be addressed because scratching can lead to crusting and scabbing of the skin, further breaking down the skin, and increasing the risk of infection. Treatment of eczema entails a combination approach, including consistent skincare, moisturization and hydration of the skin, antihistamines, topical corticosteroids, changes in bathing and laundering habits, and antibiotics if infection is present. Recently, new medications have come on the market that target the part of the immune system responsible for causing atopic dermatitis, and are a welcome treatment option for resistant cases and those suffering from severe eczema.
For more information about atopic dermatitis and eczema, the National Eczema Association is an excellent resource.