Because eczema can easily be mistaken for other skin conditions, it is important to be evaluated by a medical professional.
By Jodi-Ann Moore, PA-C
You have this itchy skin condition going on for days, weeks, months or heaven forbid even years with everyone trying to give you advice on what they think it is. You hear the word eczema from a friend or maybe even a relative who had the “same thing”, but what does that mean?
Well, the first thing to know is that eczema can easily be mistaken for other skin conditions such as ringworm, seborrheic dermatitis, or psoriasis just to name a few. For this reason, it is important to be evaluated by a medical professional.
So, what is eczema? Eczema is a common disorder that often presents with redness, scaling, dryness, bumps and/or itching. It can affect both adults and children in different ways. Often times the term “atopic dermatitis” is used interchangeably with eczema when it is considered one component of eczema. Several factors can contribute to eczema flares such as season change (extreme heat or cold), allergies (food or environmental allergies), irritant exposures to the skin (such as perfumes), stress and even illness.
The goal of eczema therapy is to control symptoms and clear the outbreak when it flares. Seek out your local dermatologist for appropriate care in addition to implementing these recommended tips:
1. Avoid Fragrant Products
a. The use of fragrance in products such as soaps, lotions and laundry detergents can often irritate the skin and cause flares in people with eczema or sensitive skin. A strict fragrant free regimen is therefore advised.
2. Avoid Hot Showers
a. Hot showers or baths as well as prolonged exposure to water tends to irritate and dry out the skin further worsening eczema symptoms. As a result, lukewarm to cool showers or baths are recommended in addition to shorter shower and bath times. The use of moisturizing soaps such as Dove sensitive soap is often helpful.
3. Moisturize Often
a. The skin needs to be kept moisturized/hydrated to reduce frequency of flares. Therefore, it is advised to moisturize with thick fragrant free creams or even oils such as olive oil especially during the winter months. The best time to moisturize is directly after showers or baths with repeated application as needed.
b. During the winter months it is recommend to add a cool mist humidifier to increase the hydration of the skin.
If you find that it is still difficult to control despite treatment, additional testing may be necessary. Please discuss all concerns with your health care provider and understand that it may take more than one visit to completely control this condition depending on its severity.