Outlook For People With Eczema
Eczema is a chronic disease, so you will likely always have flares. You can help control it by learning to avoid triggers, treating it as your healthcare provider recommends, and keeping your skin well-moisturized.
Eczema can make you more prone to skin damage, infections, or scars. It can also be harder to control if it started when you were very young, other people in your family have it, or it’s severe.
Eczema And Your Genes
Research shows that some people with eczema have a mutation of the gene responsible for creating filaggrin. Filaggrin is a protein that helps our bodies maintain a healthy protective barrier on the outermost layer of our skin. Without enough filaggrin to build and maintain a strong skin barrier, moisture can escape and then allow bacteria, viruses and allergens to enter the body this exposed or leaky skin barrier can then lead to extremely itchy skin, dry scaly patches of skin, blisters, skin infections, red spots or bumps and other symptoms.
The most common type of eczema, atopic dermatitis, is often caused by a patients genetics. It isnt contagious, but you might have to thank your parents if you have it since it runs in the family. Youre more likely to develop atopic eczema if a close family member, such as a parent or sibling, has it too.
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Avoid Contact With Certain Materials
Some fibers, such as wool, nylon, and others, can irritate skin and cause eczema. They also may cause overheating, which also leads to flare-ups.
Dress in breathable materials, such as cotton, and avoid wearing too many layers. Also, eliminate unnecessary layers on your bed and make sure bed linens are made from breathable fabrics as well.
Drink Plenty Of Water
Keeping your body hydrated can help keep your skin hydrated. Drink at least eight glasses of water per day. This will help moisturize your skin. Those eight glasses can include cups of tea, coffee, hot chocolate, or your other favorite warm winter beverage.
Slice up lemons or other citrus fruits and add them to the water for a mild flavor.
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Find Support To Help You Deal With Stress
Emotional stress can trigger eczema symptoms, and a recent clinical study found that people with eczema have an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety. If your eczema is affecting you, talk to a doctor. Treatments like cognitive behavioural therapy can help manage your response to stress and reduce the impact living with eczema has on your mental health, explains Dr McClymont.
Eczema Around The Eye
When eczema occurs on the face, it often affects the skin around the eyes or eyelids . Eczema that develops near the eyes needs special attention because the eyes themselves can be affected.
Those with eczema around the eyes are more susceptible to certain eye problems such as conjunctivitis , inflamed cornea, and changes in the shape of the cornea .
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Home Remedies Can Help
The best way to manage eczema around the eyes is to keep the skin in the area highly moisturized.
- Avoid drying face washes. Choose leave-on emollient products that keep the skin moisturized while they cleanse it.
- Avoid fragrances. Many skincare products contain added fragrances. Choose products that are fragrance-free.
- Use gentle products. Ask your dermatologist for recommendations for gentle moisturizers. These will keep skin moist and free from irritation.
- Wear sunscreen and sunglasses. Sun exposure can make the skin on your eyes more sensitive and lead to eczema outbreaks. Aim to limit exposure.
- Avoid triggers. If you know certain allergens or products trigger an outbreak, steer clear of these. Stick to tried-and-true favorites that you know dont irritate your skin.
Unfortunately, eczema is a persistent skin condition that is tricky to treat. For some people, eczema subsides over time as they get older. Other people, however, may have to deal with the condition throughout their lifetime.
As more information is gained on the condition, more effective treatment and symptom management options are becoming available. A combination of the above treatment options and preventative measures works best for most people.
Treatment For Eczema On Nipples
Treatment options. While eczema cannot be completely cured, there are many treatment options to improve symptoms. If one treatment plan doesnât work, you can try another until you find the right products and strategies for the severity and symptoms of your eczema.
Treating eczema on your nipples. Taking care of your skin condition is the best way to improve your symptoms. Moisturize your skin at least twice a day using fragrance-free products such as:
- Petroleum jelly
In some people, food allergens can cause eczema flare-ups. You may need to cut something out of your diet like:
âTo avoid stressing sensitive skin, you can also try:
- Shortening your time in the bath or shower
- Using warm instead of hot water
- Using gentle soaps with mild ingredients
- Avoiding antibacterial soaps and deodorants â
- Applying moisturizer while your skin is still damp from the shower
- Discuss with your doctor on how to take bleach baths
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What Causes Eczema In Infants And Children
Eczema is brought about by the complex interplay of a genetic predisposition and the childs environment. Many things from the climate to possible allergens can cause eczema to flare. We know that eczema tends to run in the families with a predisposition to other atopic diseases, such as food allergies, asthma and hay fever. Individuals with atopic dermatitis may lack certain proteins in the skin, which leads to greater sensitivity. Parents with eczema are more likely to have children with eczema. However, the exact way it passes from parents to children is still not known. Most children who have eczema will show signs of the condition in the first year of life. It tends to wax and wane in severity.
General Tips For Coping With Eczema
Other tips to manage your eczema include:
- Keep your fingernails short longer nails are more likely to injure your skin when you scratch.
- If the water in your area is hard or alkaline, consider installing a water-softening device.
- Swim in the sea in warm weather whenever you can seawater is known to reduce the symptoms of eczema.
- Use sun exposure for limited periods for example, when swimming at the beach. This can help relieve eczema symptoms. But be aware that ultraviolet radiation is a risk factor for skin cancer and premature ageing of the skin. Also, if sun exposure causes overheating, this can also aggravate eczema.
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Building Resilience In Parents And Caregivers
Its not just the person with eczema who has to battle on a daily basis with the condition. If you look after someone else with eczema, the above tips will be useful for you, but here are some extra ideas to help you boost your own resilience supplies.
STEP AWAY. Trusting someone else to take on your caring role while you have a few hours respite may feel like a big step but its a vital one. You cannot pour all of yourself into the role of parent or carer and still expect to perform to the best of your ability all of the time. You need physical space and headspace to catch your breath.
TALK ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE. One type of social support involves reaching out to friends and family when youre struggling with eczema. Another is meeting up with them and simply enjoying yourself. Ban all talk of eczema for a night and remember who you are beyond emollients, treatments and medical appointments. Spend time with people who inspire you, energise you and make you laugh.
How Is It Treated
Because there is not yet a cure for eczema, our treatment goals are to reduce itching and skin inflammation, and to prevent infection. The best treatment for eczema is a proactive one, using gentle skin care and moisturizers to re-establish the skin barrier.
Infants and older childrens skin should be kept well moisturized, and washed with fragrance-free non-soap cleansers. We also recommend a fragrance-free ointment-based moisturizer, with petrolatum as either the only or the first ingredient. In young children and infants, it is reasonable to use an over-the-counter topical hydrocortisone ointment, which is a mild topical steroid, for up to a week.
But if the rash either persists or you find that you need to use the hydrocortisone more than one week out of the month, you should discuss further use with your childs pediatrician. You can apply the ointment, as prescribed, then a coat of petrolatum-based moisturizer, to help keep in the moisture.
If your childs skin does not respond well to any of these measures or becomes infected, contact your pediatrician, who can diagnose the condition and then prescribe another topical cream or antihistamine.
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Are There Complications From Eczema
Complications are possible with eczema and could include:
- Weeping eczema: Weeping eczema causes fluid-filled blisters to form on your skin.
- Infected eczema: Infected eczema occurs when bacteria, fungus or a virus breaks through your skin to cause an infection.
Symptoms that are a sign of complications include:
- Fever and chills.
- A clear to yellow fluid leaking out of blisters on your skin.
- Pain and swelling.
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What Does Eczema Look And Feel Like
Eczema flare-ups can affect any part of the skin, but the areas most commonly affected tend to be the face, the hands and the sensitive areas of skin around the joints, such as the back of the knees or inside the elbows.
Typically, eczema appears as patches of itchy and cracked, scaly or peeling skin that can feel rough to the touch, explains Dr McClymont. Sometimes the skin may also appear blistered, weepy, thickened, crusty, bumpy or swollen.
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Eczema And Mental Health
Similar to immune system dysfunction, mental health conditions dont cause eczema, but they can make them worse. Stress in particular can cause eczema triggers. The reason stress may cause eczema flare-ups is because when your body encounters a stressful situation, theres usually a physical reaction. Usually, this physical reaction includes inflammation in the body, one the known causes of eczema.
Other mental health conditions can also increase inflammation and may cause eczema, such as depression or PTSD. However, there are fewer studies on the relationship between these conditions and eczema than on the connection between eczema and stress.
Moisturize Your Skin Regularly
Because constant scratching tends to break down and damage the protective layer of your skin, its important to moisturize twice daily even when youre not having a flare-up.
Talk to your dermatologist about the best type of over-the-counter emollient for your skin. Be sure to select unscented options.
Other skin care tips:
- Ask your doctor which skin cleansers are best.
- Keep your skin as clean as possible to avoid Staph infection.
- Avoid taking bubble baths or using scented bath salts.
- When you do bathe, use lukewarm water.
- Moisturize within 3 minutes of exiting the bathtub or shower.
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Eczema Affects Everyone Differently
Eczema affects everyone differently. One persons triggers may not be the same as anothers. You might experience eczema symptoms at certain times of the year or on different parts of your body.
Symptoms of eczema are as varied as the potential environmental factors that can lead to irritation: everyone is affected by this skin disease differently. Regardless of vaccine status, Covid-19 is also a potential trigger for eczema, possibly due to the stress of recovering from the virus, or the bodys heightened immune system response to the virus.
Stay Proactive With Skin Care
Very dry, itchy skin common with eczema can be avoided by using a daily moisturizer. There are many lotions and creams available in the marketplace that have the stamp of approval from the National Eczema Association for calming eczema-prone skin.
You need to ensure you apply moisturizers immediately after bathing, swimming, or when you spend time in the sun. You should also select products that already contain sunscreen to protect you from additional skin damage related to ultraviolet ray exposure.
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How To Use Emollients
Use your emollient all the time, even if you’re not experiencing symptoms.
Many people find it helpful to keep separate supplies of emollients at work or school, or a tub in the bathroom and one in a living area.
To apply the emollient:
- use a large amount
- do not rub it in smooth it into the skin in the same direction the hair grows
- after a bath or shower, gently pat the skin dry and apply the emollient while the skin is still moist to keep the moisture in
You should use an emollient at least twice a day if you can, or more often if you have very dry skin.
During a flare-up, apply generous amounts of emollient more frequently, but remember to treat inflamed skin with a topical corticosteroid as emollients used on their own are not enough to control it.
Do not put your fingers into an emollient pot use a spoon or pump dispenser instead, as this reduces the risk of infection. And never share your emollient with other people.
Learn To Cope With Reality
Eczema is a life-long condition that you cant cure. Even if you do everything right, you may still experience eczema outbreaks.
The best thing you can do for your peace of mind and the health of your skin is to schedule routine visits with Dr. Hitchins and follow her recommendations for daily skin care.
You must also accept your condition and the fact that an eczema flare-up will likely occur in your future. With the right resources and the support of your loved ones and Dr. Hitchins, you can thrive in spite of your eczema diagnosis.
For help with managing your eczema, schedule a consultation at Dermatology Center of Northwest Houston today by calling the office or by using the online booking feature.
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What Questions Might My Healthcare Provider Ask To Diagnose Eczema
Your healthcare provider might ask the following questions to learn more about your symptoms, including:
- Where do you have symptoms on your body?
- Did you use any products to try to treat your skin?
- Do you have any medical conditions like allergies or asthma?
- Do you have a history of eczema in your family?
- How long have you had symptoms?
- Do you take hot showers?
- Is there anything that makes your symptoms worse?
- Have you noticed something triggers or worsens your symptoms like certain soaps or detergents?
- Do your symptoms affect your ability to sleep or perform your daily activities?
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