Tomorrow commences National Eczema Week and Luminary Dermatology is doing our part to spread awareness and information surrounding this prevalent skin disorder.
What Exactly is Eczema?
If you are one of the lucky few to have gone without an eczema encounter—count yourself fortunate! Eczema is a very common skin disorder that manifests itself as itchy skin and a red rash; it is particularly common in infants and young children. Eczema is so common, in fact, that more than 31 million Americans are affected by the disorder. It most often develops as a result of an allergic reaction, or an immune-system malfunction. It can cause irritation and inflammation anywhere on the body, but is especially prevalent on the face, the insides of the arms, and behind the knees. In infants with eczema, the scalp is frequently affected.
“Eczema” refers to more than one type of skin condition. Atopic dermatitis is the most common, chronic, and severe form of eczema. It occurs most often in those with other allergic conditions, such as asthma or hay fever, and who have family members with the same issues. Eczema is not contagious even with direct skin-to-skin contact.
Causes of Eczema
While the precise cause of eczema is unknown, certain substances or circumstances can trigger symptoms in susceptible individuals. Patients with eczema may have adverse skin reactions to many common household products, such as soaps, perfumes, lotions or detergents, as well as to animal dander. They may also develop eczema outbreaks as a result of upper respiratory infections. In some cases, eczema may occur from a food allergy.
Although eczema is quite common in infants, most outgrow it by the age of 2. For infants prone to outbreaks, it is best to avoid using products or fabrics that may irritate their skin, and to avoid feeding them foods that seem to precipitate reactions. For adults, too, the best treatment for eczema may be prevention.
Recognize These Symptoms
Itchiness is the number one symptom of eczema, followed by redness and dryness of the affected skin. Additional symptoms include peeling, dry or scaly patches, inflammation, blisters that ooze, raised crusty patches, and skin discoloration. Although “redness” has often been a description of eczema, it is important to realize that an individual’s complexion may alter the appearance of said redness. Brown, purple, or grey colored rashes may be symptomatic of eczema.
There are several treatments available to ease the discomforts of eczema. Cold compresses and over-the-counter preparations to address itching may be recommended. If symptoms persist or become more severe, stronger medications may be prescribed. Treatment of eczema may include antihistamines, topical corticosteroids, altering bathing habits, antibiotics, phototherapy, or even immunomodulators. Early treatment of eczema is imperative as ignored cases can result in skin infections, permanent skin discoloration, thick, itchy skin, and even insomnia.
Our qualified Luminary providers can assist you in finding the eczema treatment right for you! Many of our Luminary providers offer pediatric dermatology, treating patients from infancy to adolescence. If you or your child is suffering from eczema, contact our office nearest you today.