October is Eczema Awareness Month! Dr. Baldone & Dr. Reina want you to be aware of the symptoms, causes, and what you can do to prevent flare ups.
What are the symptoms of Eczema?
Early symptoms include patches of red, usually dry, but sometimes weepy, itchy, sensitive skin. Chronic eczema may cause dark colored patches which can feel rough or leathery.
What causes Eczema?
Eczema is a general term for dermatitis, which simply means inflammation of the skin. There are several types of eczema including atopic dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, and nummular eczema. While we don’t know exactly what causes eczema, a combination of genetic predisposition and a trigger are usually involved. People with eczema tend to have an over-reactive immune system that can be triggered causing inflammation. The inflammation then causes the red, itchy and painful skin symptoms common to most types of eczema. Dry skin can also be a trigger.
Diagnosis is made based on the appearance and distribution of the rash, the age of the patient, and triggers involved.
Patients should bathe using lukewarm water with a mild cleanser and moisturize immediately after with mild lotions and creams. Prescription steroid creams are often prescribed for flares. Emollients should be applied at least 2-3 times daily. Patients should avoid scented detergents or fabric softeners and keep fingernails short.
While eczema is chronic in nature, flares may be prevented with gentle skin care and liberal use of emollients. Eczema can improve with moisturizers and topical steroids, and worsen with stress, scented soaps, detergents, scratching, dry skin, changes in weather and skin infections.
A note from Dr. Reina: My son has had eczema since birth. Luckily, it has improved with age. Eczema prevention, maintenance and treatment is a lot of work. It requires adherence to a good skin care regimen, and early intervention with flares.