Eczema is a common skin issue that effects an estimated 10% (1 in 10) or about 15 million people in the United States and is caused by a combination of immune system activation, genetics, environmental triggers and stress. The rash of eczema causes your skin to become red and itchy, scaly, with leathery patches due to the damaged barrier of your skin called ceramides. Environment irritants are a large factor in developing eczema and these include exposure to tobacco smoke, air pollutants, harsh soap (Such as dish soap, hand sanitizer, laundry detergent, etc.), wool fabrics, and also skin products. People that have the highest risk of developing eczema are those that either have a personal or family history of environmental allergies, asthma or dermatitis.
Although eczema can be found anywhere on the body the most common areas are found on your hands, neck, inner elbows, ankles, knees, feet and around your eyes. Although eczema may cause a little discomfort on the skin surface, it will never medically harm you.
The diagnosis of eczema is done by a conversation you’ll have with your healthcare provider. Common questions about your condition will be asked such as:
- Is there a family history of eczema?
- Does anything make your condition better or worse, such as after the use of soaps, detergents or cigarette smoke?
- Does your condition inhibit you from sleeping or carrying out your normal day to day activities?
Finally, to diagnose eczema, your healthcare provider may biopsy the site in question.
Keys to improving your eczema:
- Avoid long, hot baths which make your skin dry
- Apply lotion immediately after bathing to lock in moisture
- Avoid wool clothing, use cotton products
- Use mild laundry soap such as free and clear
- Use skin products that contain ceramides
- Avoid getting too hot and sweaty
- Avoid scratching or rubbing areas of the skin that are leathery
- Wear gloves at work if you are work in an area where your hands are constantly in water or around harsh chemicals
Unfortunately there is no cure for eczema at this time but luckily at Blue Ocean Dermatology we have many ways to easily managing the rash including antihistamines, topical steroids, phototherapy and even injectable medication for the more severe cases to name a few.
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