How Is Dermatitis Treated What Medications Are Used
The type of treatment depends on the type of dermatitis and its location. Step number one is to avoid whatever triggers the dermatitis. That may be stress, a chemical, tobacco smoke and/or a number of other irritants that cause or worsen your dermatitis. Step number two is to try remedies on your own. Step number three is medication prescribed by your healthcare provider.
Diagnosis And When To See A Doctor
People who experience symptoms of eczema should see a doctor or dermatologist. Eczema can indicate a new allergy, so it is important to determine what is causing the reaction.
Eczema can also increase the likelihood of staph infections and have a severe effect on a personâs mental health. A doctor can recommend a treatment plan to manage symptoms and flare-ups.
There is no specific test to diagnose most types of eczema. The doctor will want to know the individualâs personal and family medical history. They will also ask about recent exposures to potential allergens and irritants. It is essential that people let the doctor know if they have hay fever or asthma.
The doctor may also ask about:
- sleep patterns
- any previous treatments for skin conditions
- any use of steroids
A physical examination of the rash will help the doctor to diagnose which type of eczema it is.
The doctor may also perform a patch test, which involves pricking a personâs skin with a needle that contains potential irritants and allergens. A patch test can determine whether or not someone has contact dermatitis.
There is no cure for eczema, so treatment involves managing the symptoms and trying to prevent further flare-ups.
Some treatment options for eczema include:
Some general tips that may help to prevent eczema flare-ups include:
Other Essential Oils For Eczema
In addition to tea tree oil, there are a number of other essential oils that might be effective at relieving eczema symptoms, including:
Each of these essential oils contains its own set of unique properties that may soothe irritated, itchy, dry skin. You may need to try out various oils before finding the ones that work best for you.
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Try A Disinfecting Bath
People with atopic dermatitis are prone to infections, so bleach baths can help disinfect the skin. One or two times a week, add a half cap of bleach to the tub and soak for 10 minutes.
Warning: People with bleach sensitivities or allergic asthmas should consult their doctor before trying this, according to the National Eczema Association. A cup of vinegar added to a full tub may also help reduce the amount of bacteria on the skin without the risk.
Do Use Hand Sanitizer If Soap And Water Are Not Available
The CDC recommends that hand sanitizers contain at least 60 percent alcohol, but Desai says he opts for at least 70 percent alcohol content. He also cautions that hand sanitizer can be a trigger for eczema symptoms. Hand sanitizer can lead to flare-ups, absolutely. I just put some on a moment ago, and my hands are burning and stinging, Desai says. Moisturize immediately after the hand sanitizer dries, and look for hand sanitizers with emollients in them, he advises. According to the National Eczema Society, emollients are moisturizing agents that can help treat eczema. Creams, lotions, ointments, sprays, and gels are all examples of emollients.
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Check Your Elbows Before Anything
You might be able to tell a serious case of eczema apart from occasional itchy skin by where the rash pops up. Shari Sperling, DO, a New Jersey-based dermatologist who practices at St. Barnabas Medical Center, says that there are two common areas on the body that are most often affected. “Eczema shows up more in patches, more commonly behind the knees and inside of elbows as well as on cheeks for babies,” she shares. “These patches are severely uncomfortable, dry, red, inflamed, and itchy.”
If you’re unsure about whether or not your patch of rough skin needs more attention, try doubling down on lotions and topical treatments first. If there’s no improvement in two weeks, it’s time to head to a professional treatment .
How Do You Improve Sleep With Eczema
Quality sleep is often elusive for people with eczema. Its a sign that symptoms are not well controlled. Sleep disruption can have a significant impact on well-being, especially with kids, because its critical to overall health.
Itching is often at its worst at night, when there are no activities to distract your mind and body. Here are four tips to develop a bedtime routine and help ease the itch:
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Add A Protective Barrier
Slather an extra layer of petroleum jelly on your babys cheeks and nose before heading out for a wintery walk to prevent chapping and irritation from dry winter air. If your baby gets an eczema flare around her mouth, apply petroleum jelly or another thick barrier cream to the area before meals and snacks, advises Michele Ramien, a dermatologist at the Childrens Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa. Kids with eczema have the genetics to develop allergies, and one of the main ways they become allergic is through exposure on broken or damaged skin, she explains. The barrier will also prevent acidic foods such as strawberries and tomato sauce from irritating the skin when they inevitably get all over your little ones face.
Dont Rinse With Hot Water
When washing your hands, use water that is no hotter than lukewarm, Dr. Elbuluk advises people with eczema. The hotter your water is, the more it actually dries out your skin. Contrary to popular belief, you dont need hot water to kill germs. According to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Food Protection, water temperature makes no difference in washing effectiveness.
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Managing Your Treatment Routine
Every morning, Berryman abides by a simple but critical skincare routine to keep his eczema in checkstarting with a shower, followed immediately by topical corticosteroid on problem areas, then a layer of moisturizer all over.
He repeats this process as needed after workouts or before going out. He also gives himself a weekly biologic injection. He said the sooner teens can develop a routine that works for them, the better off theyll be.
Teens need to learn time budgeting to plan skincare into their schedules. Its a prerequisite to getting ready to go out, so it should be treated as a necessity, not a chore, Berryman said. Although this mental transition is difficult for teens, its key in easing the transition of responsibility away from your parents.
Of course, teens tend to rebel against anything their parents tell them to do regularly, even if its just a reminder to apply more lotion or stop scratching.
As a teenager, you bristle at that because youre like, No, its my skin, its my problem. I dont have to listen to you, even though what theyre saying is the right thing to do, said Berryman, who finally came to grips with his skincare regimen after meeting adults through NEA who had their routines down and their eczema under control.
The longer you put off shouldering the responsibility, the worse your problems are going to be, he said. Theres no reason why you should avoid things that you have to do to make yourself feel better.
Monitor Your Stress Levels
“Stress is huge,” Dr. Bhutani says. “There’s definitely a connection between the mind and the skin.” If a patient’s been practicing gentle skincare and using their prescriptions without improvement, Dr. Bhutani often looks at this piece of the puzzle. Getting plenty of sleep and addressing worry and anxiety could help improve your skin.
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Scalp Eczema Friendly Shampoo
Many doctors recommend T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo by Neutrogena. Personally, I tend to stay away from this product because it doesnt have a very pleasant smell. Instead, I opt for other gentle and fragrance-free shampoos to ensure my scalp is free of bacteria, irritants, and allergens. Dove or any National Eczema Association approved shampoos should do the trick. Currently, I’m using Mitch Double Hitter – which is a sulfite-free 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner by Paul Mitchell.
Myth: Eczema Is An Individual Problem
Having eczema can negatively affect your quality of life. A study published in July 2018 in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology found that adults with eczema reported more dissatisfaction with their lives than people without eczema. The condition also caused people with eczema to avoid social interaction and impacted their activities. This suffering affects not only the individual but also the entire family, Crutchfield says.
It takes time and resources away from other activities and other members of the family, he says. It can affect social interaction between couples, their children, and other members of the family. For example, lets say someone takes medication that causes excessive drowsiness. That can trickle down, influencing their mood and their ability to perform everyday tasks.
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What Tests Are Done To Diagnose Dermatitis
Usually your healthcare provider will be able to diagnose dermatitis based on examining your skin. However, when there is doubt, they may perform the following tests:
- Blood tests to check for causes of the rash that might be unrelated to dermatitis.
- A skin biopsy to distinguish one type of dermatitis from another.
- An allergy skin test.
What Is Atopic Dermatitis
Wait a minute, you might be thinking. Isnt eczema just that red, itchy stuff that flares up every once in a while? Not exactly, Boos says.
Many people use the term eczema when theyre actually talking about one specific type: atopic dermatitis. Thats because atopic dermatitis or AD, for short is the most common form of eczema, affecting around 18 million American adults.
AD isnt just the most common type of eczema, either. Its also one of the longest lasting forms of skin inflammation and can be the most severe.
Atopic dermatitis is a genetically predisposed condition characterized by red, scaly patches and an itch, Boos explains.
While mostly young children are affected by atopic dermatitis, studies show that adults can get it, too. How long you have it for and when you get it also varies.
Kids may end up only having AD when theyre young and then outgrow it, but the condition can also last their entire lives. Then there are those individuals who get it for the first time as adults, although this is far less common.
Between 10% to 30% of kids have it, Boos notes. In adults, its anywhere from 3% to 10%.
How old you are when you have AD may also change where and how that skin inflammation appears on your body.
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Other Scalp Eczema Tips
- Use old pillowcases if youre using an oil-based medication to avoid ruining your nice set. Alternatively, you could also wear a shower cap while you sleep.
- Dont scratch or pick at our scalp. Instead, firmly tap the spots that are bothering you with your fingertip. If you scratch while in public, youll likely get dandruff all over your shirt and have bits of dead skin floating around in your hair. It might seem like scratching is the right thing to do but in the end, it will just make you unhappier.
If youre not finding any relief from your flare with these tips, I recommend reaching out to a healthcare professional for further treatment.
Myth: Eczema Will Clear Up On Its Own
Treating eczema quickly is key to keeping it from becoming more inflamed and problematic, Dr. Benabio says. More inflammation leads to more scratching, which can lead to bacterial infection, making eczema worse. There are many treatments available, from the medication mentioned earlier to lifestyle changes, such as avoiding excessive sweating, steering clear of soaps and fragrances known to be triggers, and moisturizing twice a day, according to the Mayo Clinic. The key, though, is acting fast and treating the skin before the vicious itch-inflammation-infection cycle begins.
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Buy Moisturizer That Comes In A Tub
The products you scoop out with your fingers is actually thicker than formulas that have to go through a pump. The National Eczema Association recommends CeraVe Healing Ointment and Vaseline Intensive Care Deep Moisture Jelly Cream for keeping your skin moisturized. The organization also passed along a stamp of approval to Aveeno’s eczema treatment cream, which is a rich balm loaded with ceramides in an colloidal oatmeal base that can help moisturize your outermost layer of skin in harsh temperatures.
When you get out of the shower or bath, pat your skin with a towel until it’s slightly damp. Then seal in the moisture by applying lotion no more than three minutes later. This method a.k.a. “soak and seal” will promote better hydration. While you won’t get that squeaky-clean feeling, that sensation’s actually a sign you’ve dried out your skin too much, Dr. Bhutani says.
How Do You Apply Tea Tree Oil For Eczema
Dilute tea tree oil with a carrier oil before applying it to the skin. For every one or two drops of tea tree oil, use 12 drops of the carrier oil.
Once diluted, apply liberally to the affected area using your fingers or a cotton ball. Watch for any signs of irritation.
If you feel burning, stinging, or irritation, remove the oils using a warm, wet washcloth.
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Does Tea Tree Oil Help With Eczema
Tea tree oil is an essential oil that is derived from the Melaleuca alternifolia tree, which is native to Australia. Tea tree oil boasts many benefits for skin health and is a popular ingredient in many over-the-counter personal care products, including shampoos, soaps, and facial cleansers.
Tea tree oil is valued for its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties. When used as a complementary therapy, tea tree oil might be a safe, effective way to soothe the symptoms of eczema.
Tea tree oil has many properties that may help relieve eczema symptoms, including:
- Anti-inflammatory properties
What the Research Says
While research has shown that tea tree oil is an effective remedy for treating and soothing many skin conditions, there are not many studies that specifically evaluate it as a treatment for eczema specifically.
However, one study in 2011 found that tea tree oil is more effective at treating eczema than traditional topical treatments containing zinc oxide or ichthammol.
Tea tree oil is highly concentrated, and it has the potential to be irritating to the skinparticularly if the oil is not diluted. Be sure to dilute the tea tree oil with a carrier oil such as olive, almond, or sunflower oil before you apply it.
What Causes Atopic Dermatitis
While experts dont fully understand why you have atopic dermatitis, they suspect it has something to do with your genetic makeup and how that affects your immune response.
This may be the reason why some people get AD when theyre young while others dont get it until theyre adults. It can also explain why those who have atopic dermatitis are also more likely to develop seasonal allergies, food allergies or asthma something that experts call the atopic march.
To further investigate, researchers have recently started to divide the condition into distinct types called endotypes based on whats happening in your body on the molecular level.
Weve been treating atopic dermatitis as one block of disease, but what were realizing as were looking at the biochemical profile in either blood or skin biopsies is that there are lots of different chemical pathways to that clinical presentation of AD, Boos says.
What that means is that while you and your friends may all have atopic dermatitis, whats happening in your body may be slightly different from whats happening in theirs.
This new line of research can not only help uncover more about your immune system and eczema as a whole but also lead to more specific treatments.
We cant just say for any one individual, The reason you have eczema is this, Boos says. But as we move toward more personalized medicine, we can begin to figure out more fitting treatments instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.
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Ways To Soothe Your Babys Eczema
When your baby is itchy and in pain, youll do anything to help her feel better. Four experts weigh in on what actually works.
Watching your baby wail in discomfort from red, irritated, eczema-flared skin can make you feel like youre at your wits end, so we asked experts for tips on how to get the itchy condition under control.
What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
- What type of dermatitis do I have?
- How can you tell that its that type of dermatitis?
- If I dont have dermatitis, what other skin condition might I have?
- Is there a specific brand of moisturizer that you recommend?
- Is there a prescription shampoo, cream or lotion that you can prescribe?
- How often should I see a dermatologist regarding this condition?
- What soaps, lotions, makeup, etc. should I avoid?
- What medications do you recommend?
- What at-home treatments do you recommend?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
See your healthcare provider as soon as you start to see symptoms of dermatitis. Feeling itchy and/or in pain all the time affects your quality of life. Its distracting, uncomfortable and can even keep you from having a good nights sleep.
Dermatitis is very normal, but it may make you feel self-conscious in public. It can affect your self-esteem and your social life or relationships. But remember that as many as 15% to 20% of people experience some form of dermatitis at some point in time, so know that youre not alone!
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/29/2020.
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