16 Oct October: Eczema Awareness Month
October is eczema awareness month, and we want to share some of our most frequently asked questions about the condition. Sometimes, dry skin can be confused with eczema, and this is especially true in the fall and winter months. With cold weather just around the corner, it’s important to understand what eczema is and how to treat it. Keep reading to learn more.
What is eczema?
First, it’s important to understand the many names used to describe eczema. You might have heard it referred to as: eczema, dermatitis, atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis. The medical term atopic dermatitis is correct, but we’ll use eczema here, since it’s the most common. Eczema is one of the most common skin conditions that usually appears in childhood. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, up to 25% of children and 60% of adults develop eczema in the first year of life.
What are eczema symptoms?
Eczema causes scaly, itchy patches on the skin. These patches usually occur on the hands, feet, ankles, wrists, neck, chest, knees, elbow and face. Symptoms typically mimic those of dry skin, with often severe itching at night. Scratching can lead to thick, sensitive or cracked skin and infection.
How is eczema diagnosed?
No specialized testing is needed to diagnose eczema. Instead, your doctor can make an eczema diagnosis after other skin conditions have been ruled out. A board-certified dermatologist can assess your symptoms and medical history to diagnose eczema.
How is eczema treated?
Eczema is often a chronic condition. It can flare-up even when controlled by topical or oral medications. Common topical treatments include creams to control itching, and oral medications can be used to prevent infection and control inflammation. However, the best way to control eczema is to prevent flare-ups. Noticing signs early and seeking medical advice when symptoms first arise can help control the condition. Here are some tips for flare prevention:
- Moisturize your skin. Be sure to moisturize twice a day. Moisturizers—in the form of ointments or lotions—can help your skin retain moisture. This is particularly important in the winter when skin can dry out quicker.
- Avoid things that cause your flares. Eczema triggers are unique for each person. Identifying and avoiding these things can help prevent a flare-up. A few of the most common triggers include some foods (particularly for children), sweat, scented soaps and detergents and common allergens like dust and pollen.
- Be aware of your shower habits. Prolonged exposure to hot water can dry the skin out. Try to limit your baths or showers to about 10 or 15 minutes maximum and use lukewarm water.
Even with preventative measures like these, eczema may still flare-up. Because environmental triggers are the most common cause of worsening eczema, it can be difficult to identify and avoid all triggers. Try starting with these tips and avoid things that cause your symptoms to worsen.
To sum it up
Eczema is a common condition that can affect anyone but is most prominent in children. If you have dry, itchy or scaly skin, it may be time to see your doctor. A dermatologist can help you create a care plan to prevent flare-ups and treat existing symptoms.
Please call us at 615.859.7546 for more information or to schedule your appointment. You can also schedule your complimentary skin consultation online.
At Loven Dermatology and Aesthetics, we are passionate about providing patients in Middle Tennessee with the best dermatological care and service possible. We want to help you look and feel your best. That’s why we proudly offer highly advanced and individualized treatment for a range of skin concerns and needs.