Eczema is a broad category of skin conditions that frequently cause itching, irritation, and rashes. Although there is no way to cure eczema, many people with the condition are able to reduce symptoms and control flare-ups.
Get A Formal Diagnosis
For anyone who suspects they have eczema, it is easy to assume they have the condition based on comparing their skin issues to pictures online. Unfortunately, diagnosing eczema requires a visit to a dermatologist. Not only do you need to determine your specific type of eczema, but there are many other skin conditions that can mimic eczema and may need to be treated differently. For example, psoriasis is a common skin ailment that can also manifest itself as psoriatric arthritis. The approach to treat eczema may be vastly different than the approach to treat psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Once the condition is diagnosed, your dermatologist can monitor the issue to determine the best approach to treat the condition and whether your needs will change over time.
Being mindful of what triggers your eczema can make the condition easier to control. Once you recognize you have eczema, you should consider keeping a journal about anything that irritates your skin. Environmental triggers are common. Some people notice they have more flare-ups of eczema during certain times of year. This can be related to allergens, especially during the spring, summer, and early fall, but if you have indoor allergens as a trigger, it may be harder to pinpoint the exact culprit. During the cooler months, it is common to use heat, which can further dry out the air inside buildings, making your skin more itchy and irritated.
You might also notice certain skin care products, fragrances, and laundry products cause a reaction. Generally, people who have eczema try to avoid products with fragrances, dyes, and unnecessary ingredients to reduce the chances of a reaction. When you are trying to determine which, if any, products might be a problem, it is best to eliminate your current products for a while and switch to gentler products. Once you feel like your skin is no longer being irritated by any of the products you are currently using, you might reintroduce your old products one at a time and chronicle the experience. You can use a similar approach to food, which may also cause skin reactions in some people.
Use OTC And Prescription Treatments
There are many retail and prescription products that can help manage the symptoms of eczema. If you notice environmental allergens are a problem, antihistamines might help. When choosing an antihistamine, be sure to avoid those intended for immediate relief of allergy symptoms, unless you need fast control over severe symptoms. These medications are not intended for daily, long-term use and might ultimately make symptoms worse when you try to stop taking them. Look for products marketed as a once-daily antihistamine. Retail products, such as anti-itch creams, are also helpful to spot-treat itchy areas. If you need these products more than occasionally, it is best to speak with your dermatologist.
Sometimes prescription medications are used for eczema, but these are often reserved for severe flare-ups or when there are ongoing issues that are not managed by changes in your lifestyle. A severe flare-up of eczema may warrant use of oral steroids. This suppresses the immune system and can stop symptoms. Since steroids are not meant to be taken long-term, your symptoms may return, especially if they cannot be attributed to controllable issue. Some dermatologists prescribe biologic medications for the long-term management of severe eczema cases. Biologics suppress specific parts of the immune system to discourage an unnecessary immune response.
Although eczema is generally a chronic condition, many people are able to control their symptoms by avoiding triggers and using retail treatments. In severe cases, ongoing treatment with prescription medications might be necessary. Contact a dermatology office in your area for more information.
After spending years wondering if I would ever be able to shake a serious skin condition, I finally realized that there had to be something I could do. I began talking with a professional dermatologist about the problem, and it was really interesting to me to see just how much help he was. He walked through all of the various treatments with me and how they would affect my condition, and before I knew it, I was enjoying cleaner, more beautiful skin. I began writing this blog a few years ago in order to help other people around me to live a better life. Check it out!