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Eczema: Symptoms and Treatment for This Type of Dermatitis

    Eczema: Symptoms and Treatment for This Type of Dermatitis

    Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is characterized by patchy skin due to inflammation, and redness. This can be itchy and rough and can crack at the surface. In this article, we’ll look into the symptoms, causes, and eczema treatments as well as home remedies.

    Symptoms of Eczema

    Symptoms of this type of dermatitis vary not only in where these rashes show up but also on the age of whoever has eczema. In this section, we’ll look into what eczema looks like for babies, children, and adults.

    Babies

    For babies up until two years of age, eczema is likely to show up on the scalp or cheeks. These rashes also have a tendency to bubble up and leak fluid. This itchiness can interfere with sleeping patterns and cause fussiness and rubbing. Make sure that this is avoided as this could lead to skin infections.

    Children

    For children, from two years old until right before puberty, these rashes are commonly found in the creases of the body. The creases of the elbows or knees or the upper thigh area right under the buttocks are highly susceptible to rubbing against each other. And so, they’re likely to become irritated. Areas like the neck, wrist, and ankle are also susceptible to eczema.

    The appearance of the rashes could be bumpy and a shade lighter or darker than the skin tone. They could also thicken or develop into knots that constantly itch through a process called lichenification.

    Adults

    For adults, the rashes could cover much of the body. But similar to kids, they’re more commonly found in the creases of the body. They could also be prominent from the neck up like the neck, face, and the area around the eyes through dry and constantly itchy skin. Compared to children and babies, the rashes could be scalier and lead to even more skin infections due to exposure.

    Causes of Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

    Common causes of eczema are:

    • Irritants
    • Allergens
    • Microbes
    • Food

    Irritants

    Irritants can be found as stripping ingredients in soaps or shampoo and other cleaning products like detergents and disinfectants.

    There are also irritants present in food like juices from fruits, juices, meat, and vegetables.

    Allergens

    Allergens vary from person-to-person but common ones include dust mites, pets, pollen, mold, and dandruff. Common microbes like staphylococcus aureus, fungi, and viruses could cause itchiness and irritation, and eventually, eczema.

    Certain Food

    Food like common intolerances such as dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, soy, and wheat could also trigger eczema.

    On top of these irritants, stress and hormones can exacerbate symptoms especially for pregnant people and at certain points of menstruation.

    Eczema Treatment and Medications

    Eczema is one of the dermatitis conditions that don’t really have a cure. Oftentimes, eczema resolves itself after some time. There are many treatment plans to curb the symptoms and get rid of the pesky splotches.

    Occasionally, areas of skin affected by atopic eczema can become infected. Signs of an infection can include:

    • Worsening eczema
    • Fluid that oozes from the skin
    • Yellowish, whitish spots appearing on affected area or yellow crusting on the surface
    • Skin becoming sore and swollen
    • General feeling of discomfort; feeling hot and shivery

    For eczema, the following may be prescribed as treatment and/or management:

    • Antibiotics since this type of dermatitis can refer to antifungals as well.
    • Antihistamines, which are anti-inflammatories for allergic triggers, help with the nighttime scratching due to drowsiness being a side effect and help with managing allergic triggers.
    • Moisturizers. Eczema’s dryness and itchiness are brought about by the dehydration of your skin. Moisturizers can help with repairing your skin barrier.
    • Corticosteroids, which are anti-inflammatory medication that comes in different forms, relieve inflammation and itchiness. Corticosteroids could be in topical cream or ointment form or could be taken orally or injected as systemic corticosteroids.
    • Phototherapy is a treatment option that is administered by experts since it involves targeted light exposure. The afflicted areas are exposed to ultraviolet A (UVA), ultraviolet B (UVB), or a combination of both to treat acute to moderate cases.

    Since there isn’t something to cure the condition entirely, it’s important to take extra care of your skin even after the treatments have gotten rid of the symptoms.

    How To Avoid Triggers

    Irritants

    To prevent dermatitis flare-ups, you can try to reduce your exposure to common irritants, which are the following:

    • Chemicals
    • Soaps
    • Detergents
    • Perfumes
    • Smoke
    • Certain fabrics

    To reduce eczema caused by the aforementioned, you may try to:

    • Use fragrance-free, gentle detergent and soaps
    • Wear breathable, cotton clothing
    • Wash clothes regularly, and wash newly bought pieces before wearing them
    • Keep your nails clean and tidy to prevent cuts and infection due to scratching
    • Wear sunscreen, preferably those that offer broad protection against UVA and UVB rays, with an SPF of 15 or higher
    • Wash off immediately after swimming in the pool or beach.

    Inhaled Allergens

    Allergens such as dust mites burrow in mattresses, pillows, and carpets, and other areas with high humidity. Change your bedsheets often and ensure to have these deep-cleaned regularly.

    Certain Food

    Certain foods trigger eczema and to determine these, you can work with your allergist/ immunologist. Also, keep track of what you eat to more easily identify food triggers.

    Stress

    Stress, anger, and frustration can cause additional itching and kick-off an itch-scratch cycle that can further aggravate your condition.

    Eczema Treatment: Home Care Tips

    On top of the prescribed treatments, there are some home care tips to help care for eczema and your skin in general.

    Warm Baths and Gentle Cleansers

    Try taking lukewarm baths with mild soap or gentle cleansers and air drying or patting the skin to dry instead of rubbing it that may cause irritation. Keep your fingernails short to avoid breaking your skin in case you do scratch.

    Moisturize

    Put lotion or moisturizer right after drying to help your skin retain moisture.

    Avoiding rapid temperature or humidity changes also helps with maintaining moisture as well as avoiding situations or events that make you sweat. A way of doing this is making sure you have humidifiers for the dry weather.

    Comfortable Clothing

    Wear softer fabrics like cotton and avoid tight clothing or clothing that could scratch your skin with its rough textures. Learning what your triggers are and making an active effort to avoid them is also crucial to treating eczema.

    Key Takeaways


    In general, taking care of your skin and making sure it’s properly moisturized is a way of taking care of your skin both preemptively and as one of the means for eczema treatment.

    Learn more about Skin Health here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Sources

    Eczema, https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/, Accessed Dec 20, 2020 

    Atopic eczema, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/atopic-eczema/, Accessed Dec 20, 2020 

    Eczema, https://medlineplus.gov/eczema.html, Accessed Dec 20, 2020 

    Eczema, https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/eczema, Accessed Dec 20, 2020 

    Eczema: Atopic Dermatitis, https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/eczema-atopic-dermatitis, Accessed Dec 20, 2020 

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    Written by Tracey Romero Updated 2 days ago
    Medically reviewed by John Paul Abrina, MD