How To Spot It
Different types of eczema look different. Depending on the type, your skin might swell, blister, crust, ooze, or develop round lesions. Rather than individual spots, eczema usually develops in patches that turn pink, purple, brownish-red, or gray.
Some folks with severe, long-lasting eczema scratch their skin so much that it bleeds or toughens into leathery thickness.
Can I Pop Dyshidrotic Eczema Blisters
Dyshidrotic eczema, also known as pompholyx eczema or dermatitis, is characterized by tiny blisters that are very itchy. These blisters frequently pop on their own. Intentionally popping dyshidrotic eczema blisters is not recommend. However, larger blisters can be drained by a doctor using a sterile syringe.
Difference Between Shingles And Eczema Causes
Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you have previously had chickenpox, there is a higher risk of having shingles later on in life. Even if youve recovered from chickenpox, the virus can be dormant and remain in the nervous system. Throughout the years, the virus can become reactivated and present itself as shingles.
The reason why the varicella zoster virus reactivates is unclear and may have to do with aging and a weakened immune system, hence the prevalence of shingles among older adults.
The exact cause of eczema is unknown. Because it often resembles an allergy, researchers believe that environmental factors may trigger the condition. A combination of factors may come into play with regards to the cause of eczema, including genetics, abnormal functioning of the immune system, environment, activities that cause the skin to be more sensitive, and defects in the skin barrier allowing moisture out and germs in.
Eczema has been found to run in families, so heredity may be a contirbuting factor. It is also more common in asthma patients and in those who suffer from allergies.
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How Is Contact Dermatitis Diagnosed
Clinical examination can reveal clues to the underlying diagnosis of irritant or allergic contact dermatitis. A careful history can uncover clues as to the offending agent.
With either type of contact dermatitis, you can avoid the substance for a while to see if the rash goes away. If avoidance is not possible or not sustainable, further diagnostic testing may be indicated.
For suspected cases of allergic contact dermatitis, a series of tests called patch testing can identify the underlying cause of allergic contact dermatitis.
With a patch test, you wear adhesive patches on your skin. The patches contain chemicals known to commonly trigger allergic reactions. After 48 hours, your healthcare provider checks your skin for reactions. Youll see your provider again in another 48-96 hours for one last skin check.
There isnt a test for irritant contact dermatitis. Your healthcare provider may be able to determine whats causing the rash based on the types of irritants or chemicals youre exposed to regularly.
Symptoms Of Chronic Hives
Hives, also called urticaria, are characterized by pink swellings on the skin called welts. These can appear anywhere on body and are itchy. The welts can last a few hours with new hives appearing as old ones disappear. Chronic hives are those that last longer than six weeks. About 95 percent of chronic hive cases are idiopathic, meaning there is no discernible cause, according to American Osteopathic College of Dermatologists.
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Differentiating Shingles And Eczema: Diagnosis And Treatment
Shingles is diagnosed through examining the history of pain on one side of the body and the appearance of a rash and blisters. Your doctor may take tissue samples of the blisters for laboratory examination to confirm diagnosis.
Treatment of shingles is done with prescribed antiviral medications, which include acyclovir, valacyclovir, or famciclovir. Along with antivirals, your doctor may also recommend other treatments to ease symptoms, including capsaicin cream, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, numbing agents, medications that contain narcotics, and corticosteroid injections.
Eczema is easily recognizable, so after examining the rash and reviewing the patients medical history, a doctor will be able to diagnose eczema. Your doctor may perform some testing to ensure it is not another condition.
It may take several different treatments to properly treat eczema, as the rash can be persistent. As long as it is caught early, treatment can begin right away. Some treatments for eczema include creams for itching and inflammation, creams for skin repair, drugs to fight off infection, oral anti-itch drugs, and oral or injected drugs to control inflammation.
Some therapies for eczema treatment include wet dressings, light therapy, stress treatment and relaxation, as well as behavior modification, or biofeedback, which can help treat habitual scratching.
Holistic Methods Of Healing //
WATER FASTING: This is something I have read endlessly about all year, and it is an amazing option for people with chronic skin disorders and so many other health problems. I wrote a full post on it here that really breaks it all down. I also just booked myself a 3 week stay at True North Healing Center in Santa Rosa for May to do a medically guided water fast. This will be news to anyone in my life reading, as I literally just booked it today.
I cant yet speak to whether it will 100% work for me or not, but I have been incorporating once a week water fasts into my life and if anything they are helping more than they are hurting. I just feel like I will need a longer, more serious fast to really nip this issue in the bud.
THE MEDICAL MEDIUM APPROACH : This approach is crazy interesting. His 28-day healing cleanse is outlined in this book, but beyond that I have devoured all of his books in the last few weeks. He posts about remarkable healing stories of eczema/hives on his Instagram almost daily and its hard not to believe how much it works. It is tough for me to fully dive into the Medical Medium healing approach because it is an all raw vegan diet. I can do vegan, but raw is a lot. And not only raw, but a LOT of fruit.
When the hives spread to my face
AND ICE PACKS! I am lucky enough to have the sweetest boyfriend on the planet who legitimately wont let me sleep unless I have my ice pack.
My arm last night still pretty red / itchyyyyy.
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The Beginning Of Healing //
I started obsessively looking forward to my Panchakarma at Surya Spa in hopes that Ayurveda would heal my rashes. Read that post to learn all about how it helped in some significant ways, but even after the PK ended I was still inflamed AF and super uncomfortable.
It even made my PK pretty uncomfortable at times, because if you can imagine getting a hot herbal oil massage that is supposed to feel so amazing you can drift off to outer space, but youre stuck here in an ragingly itchy body having the experience.
All in all the experience was very healing for me on a mind, body, soul level but the rash still had a lot of work to do.
Meanwhile I was getting weekly or twice weekly acupuncture sessions with Dr. Kara which seemed to be helping to cool my blood but then again, only in a minor way. For what its worth, Kara has been encouraging me all along to suck it up and take the steroids, because in her words, No one should have to suffer this much.
Which is true. But I still havent done it because I am holding out to cure it naturally. I feel in my heart and soul that its possible, and I know if I take an oral steroid and it goes away then I will never know if all of the work I have been doing with the natural methods will heal me if I give it enough time, and I also have a strong feeling it would keep coming back until I addressed the root cause.
How Can You Ease Your Symptoms
Dr. Fernandez recommends using a moisturizing cream or ointment if you have either eczema or psoriasis. Keeping your skin moist is helpful because youre more likely to itch if your skin is dry.
Your skin can also benefit from these general health tips:
- Drink alcohol only in moderation.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Drink more water.
- Get plenty of exercise.
There is no cure for psoriasis and multiple types of eczema, including atopic dermatitis. But you can help limit the symptoms by getting proper treatment and taking good care of your skin, Dr. Fernandez says.
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When Adults Get It
You might notice itchy patches on the hands, elbows, and in the “bending” areas of the body, such as the inside of the elbows and back of the knees. But eczema can appear anywhere, including the neck, chest, and eyelids. People who had atopic dermatitis as a child may see drier, scaly rashes as adults. The skin may be discolored or thickened.
My History With Skin //
Just like the rest of my body my skin has been highly sensitive for as long as I have lived. It just comes with the package of being a Highly Sensitive Person ! When I was little I would always get rashes from grass, plants, food, and random medications. But the rashes were never terrible and they would usually go away very quickly after using the topical meds the doctors would give me.
When I was in high school I started getting really bad psoriasis on my scalp. Thats how it was diagnosed anyway, but now I think who really knows if it was eczema all along too?
I will never forget being on a college tour across California with my mom, dealing with the worst oozy pain of my life on my scalp, checking into our hotel in Santa Barbara, and SCREAM SOBBING in the shower because the skin on my scalp was so raw it felt like the shower was ripping it right off. Right when we got back to Sacramento I saw a dermatologist who gave me a steroid foam for my scalp that, literally, IMMEDIATELY made the pain and itchiness a hell of a lot better.
At the time we assumed it was from getting my hair highlighted. I even went through a phase in high school where my hair was bleached basically WHITE, and I always just thought my scalp was sensitive to the hair dye and bleach.
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Conditions That Can Look Like Eczema But Arent
Eczema is the name for a group of conditions that can make your skin irritated, inflamed, and itchy. Your doctor may call it atopic dermatitis, which is also the most common type of eczema. Youâre more likely to get eczema when youâre a child, but adults can get it, too.
The symptoms you have and where they show up on your body vary from person to person. You might have one or more of these signs:
- Red patches on white skin
- Gray or violet-brown patches on dark skin
- Oozing or crusty skin from scratching
Several health problems can bring on similar symptoms, so itâs important to talk to your doctor, a dermatologist, or an allergist to find out whatâs going on with your skin. They might tell you that you have one of these conditions that looks like eczema but isnât:
- Red, scaly patches
- Dry, cracked skin
Eczema patches tend to be thinner than psoriasis patches. Another difference: Fluid can ooze from your skin with eczema.
Scabies. This contagious condition happens when tiny bugs called mites burrow into the top layer of your skin and lay eggs. You might have symptoms like bad itching and a rash that looks like pimples. Like eczema, you could also get scaly-looking patches.
Acne. This skin condition can take several forms, including:
Causes And Risk Factors
Eczema affects everyone differently. Papular eczema is more likely to affect African-American people or people with darker skin.
People with eczema may have a problem with a gene that creates a protein called filaggrin. This plays a role in building a protective barrier on top of the skin.
A weakened barrier means that moisture can get out and bacteria, viruses, and other irritants can get in. This is why people with eczema tend to have dry skin that is prone to infections.
Eczema is an autoimmune condition. This means that it is a result of the immune system working too hard.
Irritants can trigger the immune system and cause eczema outbreaks. Some triggers that cause the immune system to overreact include pollution, laundry detergent, and pollen. The triggers, however, are different for different people.
While there is no cure for eczema, people can use a range of treatments and remedies to ease their symptoms, depending on the type and severity of the condition.
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Diagnosing Hives Vs Rashes
Since rashes and hives both have a number of underlying causes, you may need to visit a doctor to figure out exactly why theyre happening.
Doctors can identify hives just by looking at them. However, they cant always quickly identify the trigger for the hives. There are different tests doctors can do to figure out what caused your hives. You might need allergy tests, bloodwork, or a skin biopsy to learn why you have hives.
The first thing your doctor will need to do is look at the rash. They will also ask you questions about when it appeared, whether it is itchy or painful, and other symptoms. Symptoms such as fever or difficulty breathing could be a sign of a severe allergic reaction.
To figure out the cause of the rash, your doctor will ask about foods, medicines, or chemicals you might have consumed. They might want to know about your contacts with unfamiliar plants or animals and if you are using new detergents or body care products.
If the doctor suspects you have a viral or fungal infection, they might take a swab from your skin and send it to a lab.
How Are Fungal Skin Infections Treated
Fungal infections are typically treated with antifungal drugs, usually applied directly to the affected area and can include creams, gels, lotions, solutions, or shampoosdepending on the affected area. Antifungal drugs may also be taken by mouth. In addition to medication, people may use measures to keep the affected areas dry, such as applying powders or wearing open-toed shoes. These measures may also prevent reoccurrence. For some infections, doctors may prescribe corticosteroids to relieve inflammation and itching.3
Unlike atopic dermatitis, fungal skin infections are not chronic, and therefore the prognosis is typically very good for a healthy person receiving treatment for a fungal skin infection. Still, antifungal resistance can occur in patients with compromised immune systems.8
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Symptoms And Signs Of Hives Vs Rashes
Symptoms of hives
You can see hives on your skin, so they are easy to identify. The most common signs of hives are:
- Raised, pink or red patches or bumps
- Single welts or larger clusters of welts
- Swelling that goes away after 24 hours but is replaced by new welts
- Itching or stinging sensation
Some people get repeated cases of hives in the same place. They can usually be linked to a specific trigger like a food or medicine. Doctors call this fixed hives.
Symptoms of rashes
Rashes cause skin discoloration and swelling. They can be red, scaly, blistered, or blotchy. Some rashes are itchy or painful.
You might get a rash when you have another illness, such as a virus like shingles or measles. You should call a doctor for any rash that is accompanied by fever or significant pain or for rashes that appear suddenly and spread all over your body.
What Are The Causes Of Hives Vs Rashes
Both rashes and hives have underlying causes. Knowing what causes skin reactions can help you know how to treat them.
Causes of hives
Hives are often caused by allergies. Foods, medicines, or other allergens can trigger a case of hives. Common triggers include:
- Foods, including fruits , milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish
- Some illnesses
Causes of rashes
There are a lot of different types of rashes. Some of the most common rashes include:
- Atopic dermatitis: Also known as eczema, this type of rash doesnt have a definite cause but can run in families.
- Seborrheic dermatitis: This is a greasy or crusty looking rash that often shows up on and around the scalp. The suspected causes are a combination of environmental factors such as climate, your overall health, and family history.
- Contact dermatitis: These are rashes caused by touching something that irritates your skin. Detergents, plants, and body care can lead to this type of rash.
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