What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Eczema
- How can you tell that I have eczema?
- If I dont have eczema, what other skin condition might I have?
- Is there a specific brand of moisturizer that you recommend?
- Is there a prescription cream that you can prescribe?
- How often should I see a dermatologist regarding my eczema?
- 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
Eczema is very normal, very common, and very, very uncomfortable. It can affect your quality of life. At its worse it can keep you from sleeping, distract you and make you feel self-conscious in public. See your dermatologist or other healthcare provider as soon as you start to see signs of it. Explore at-home remedies and prescribed treatments.
Youre not alone! 15% to 20% of people experience eczema or another type of dermatitis at some point in their lives.
Common Types Of Eczema On Hands
A few types of eczema can affect your hands, depending on the cause:
- Irritant contact dermatitis happens when you come into contact with something that irritates your skin, like dust or chemicals. You might even get it after washing your hands a lot. These things can cause problems with the protective barrier of your skin, leading to eczema.
- Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by an allergic reaction to something around you. Common causes include nickel, fragrances, rubber, and certain plants.
- Dyshidrotic dermatitis causes itchy, watery blisters, usually on your palms and the sides of your fingers. You can have this along with a different kind of eczema in another spot on your body. It may come in cycles and is most common before age 40. Doctors arenât sure what causes it. But things like metals, allergies, stress, heat, and sweating can make it worse.
Nummular Eczema Vs Ringworm
As they progress, nummular eczema lesions can resemble another condition caused by the ringworm fungus.
Ringworm also tends to present itchy bumps that turn into round, itchy, and scaly patches with a clear center. They may look red or pink on lighter skin, or brown and gray on darker skin. Both types of lesions will be very itchy. Ringworm lesions tend to heal from the center first.
A dermatologist is a specialist trained in knowing the difference between these two conditions, and other conditions, like psoriasis, that have similar presentations.
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Use A Moisturizer On Your Skin Every Day
Moisturizers help keep your skin soft and flexible. They prevent skin cracks. A plain moisturizer is best. Avoid moisturizers with fragrances and a lot of extra ingredients. A good, cheap moisturizer is plain petroleum jelly . Use moisturizers that are more greasy than creamy because creams usually have more preservatives in them.
Regular use of a moisturizer can help prevent the dry skin that is common in winter.
Common Eczema Flare Up Triggers
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a disease characterized by inflammation. In fact, the -itis in dermatitis refers to inflammation. Symptoms of an eczema flare-up include inflamed reddish-brown or gray patches, serious itching, dry skin, and small raised bumps. These symptoms may vary according to the specific causes of the flare-up.
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The Importance Of Sleep When You Have Eczema
Easier said than done, right? People living with eczema know how difficult it is to sleep when your skin is itchy and uncomfortable. If eczema is keeping you or your child awake at night, talk with your doctor about how to get a better handle on your symptoms. Taking an antihistamine before bed can help you become drowsy. Enjoying warm, relaxing baths or showers and lathering on the moisturizer before bed can induce sleepiness and stave off itch. It also helps to turn your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary by keeping the room dark, cool and clean, and limiting the use of electronics an hour or two before bedtime.
Wear Gloves To Protect The Skin On Your Hands
Wear vinyl or plastic gloves for work that requires you to have your hands in water. Also, wear gloves when your hands are exposed to anything that can irritate your skin. Wear cotton gloves under plastic gloves to soak up sweat from your hands. Take occasional breaks and remove your gloves. This will prevent a buildup of sweat inside your gloves.
Wear gloves when you go outside during the winter. Cold air and low humidity can dry your skin. Dryness can make your eczema worse. Wear clothes made of cotton or a cotton blend. Wool and some synthetic fabrics can irritate your skin.
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What Is An Eczema Flare
Eczema is the medical term for certain skin conditions in people with dry, sensitive skin that tends to get very itchy and develop rashes. Eczema usually comes and goes. When it becomes active, it’s called a flare-up.
A flare often occurs in response to a trigger, which may be an allergy, irritant, emotional state, or environmental condition. The itching can be very intense, making it hard not to scratch, but scratching makes it worse. The itch-scratch cycle can lead to skin damage or infection and make you miserable.
Causes Of Follicular Eczema
The cause of follicular eczema is not yet fully understood. Eczema is a skin condition that likely occurs when a genetic predisposition causes the immune system to react to certain environmental triggers, allergens, or irritants. Common triggers can include:
- Car exhaust
- Harsh fabrics such as wool
- Perfumes, lotions, sprays, and cosmetics
Follicular eczema, in particular, may be due to of the skin. This is common in people with eczema due to a lack of certain skin barrier proteins. Poor barrier function allows bacteria and other microbes to enter the skin and cause inflammation. Scratching the itchy skin can also lead to cracks and bleeding, further increasing the risk of bacterial or fungal infection. These skin infections can cause folliculitis , leading to the symptoms of follicular eczema.
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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.
How Can Parents Help
Help prevent or treat eczema by keeping your childs skin from getting dry or itchy and avoiding triggers that cause flare-ups. Try these suggestions:
- Kids should take short baths or showers in warm water. Use mild unscented soaps or non-soap cleansers and pat the skin dry before putting on cream or ointment. Teens should use unscented makeup and oil-free facial moisturizers.
- Ask your doctor if its OK to use oatmeal soaking products in the bath to help control itching.
- Kids should wear soft clothes that breathe, such as those made from cotton. Wool or polyester may be too harsh or irritating.
- Keep your childs fingernails short to prevent skin damage from scratching. Try having your child wear comfortable, light gloves to bed if scratching at night is a problem.
- Kids should avoid becoming overheated, which can lead to flare-ups.
- Kids should drink plenty of water, which adds moisture to the skin.
- Get rid of known allergens in your household and help your child avoid others, like pollen, mold, and tobacco smoke.
- Stress can make eczema worse. Help your child find ways to deal with stress .
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Symptoms Of Hand Eczema
Eczema can appear anywhere on your skin, including on your hands. It may be on the back of your hands, your palms, or your fingertips. Depending on the severity, symptoms can be mild or intense. Some people with eczema of their hands find it challenging to complete daily tasks due to discomfort.
You might have eczema of the hands if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Extremely dry and chapped skin
- Itchy skin that appears inflamed
- Crusty or oozing skin
- Cracked skin
Eczema on your hands can look like ordinary dry skin, especially in the early stages. Unlike dry skin, however, someone with eczema will need more than just moisturizer to find relief. Once you have eczema on your hands, it tends to reoccur in the same locations.
If you have eczema on your hands, you will want to learn what triggers your eczema and take good care of your skin. Avoiding triggers can minimize future flare-ups.
Whats The Difference Between Dermatitis And Psoriasis
Psoriasis and dermatitis can appear similar. Both cause patches of red skin. However, in psoriasis, the scales are thick and the edges of those scales are well-defined.
Discuss with your healthcare provider your questions about which type of skin condition you have. You can have more than one skin condition at a time. Treatments for one may not work for the other.
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What Are The Causes And How To Make Eczema Go Away
People with eczema often experience flare-ups which may be aggravated by changing weather or emotional stress. Other eczema causes vary depending on the type of eczema but are often related to allergies. For instance, people with atopic dermatitis may be more likely to develop hay fever or asthma.
Eczema triggers include irritants such as soap, perfumes, dust mites, animal hair and certain fabrics, such as wool and synthetics. Hormonal changes, skin infections and food allergies are further possible causes.
Contact dermatitis may be caused by acids and alkalis, fabric softeners, hair dyes, cement, adhesives,
harsh detergents, and certain metals. While there is no cure for eczema, it is possible to manage symptoms and reduce the risk of flare-ups.
Treatment options include ointments and moisturizers to keep the skin hydrated and reduce itching and cracking. Use cooler water for bathing and gently dab the skin dry with a towel rather than rubbing avoid tight clothing.
What foods to avoid if you have eczema?
Eczema causes may be aggravated by food allergies. As a general rule, eczema sufferers should avoid foods containing preservatives and artificial ingredients. You should also try and cut out foods containing trans fats such as margarine, processed food, and fast food.
Is eczema a sign of a weak immune system?
Does drinking water help eczema?
Integrative And Complementary Approaches
There are many natural moisturizers that can be soothing, such as sunflower seed oil and coconut oil, says Lio. He adds that soaking in diluted apple cider vinegar or black tea can help to dry blisters. For milder cases, these can be enough to get people through, but usually if things are more severe, we often need more powerful treatments.
Research into the bathing remedies he mentions have had mixed results on people with related types of eczema.
A study published in January 2019 in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment studied 22 German people with facial eczema who received treatment with gauze compresses soaked in black tea, followed by cold cream, for six days. Though small, the study suggests this remedy led to significant decreases in itchiness and other symptoms, the researchers write.
On the other hand, another small study published in September 2019 in Pediatric Dermatology found that soaking skin in diluted apple cider vinegar up to the forearms led to irritation in 73 percent of the treated participants with atopic dermatitis and did not improve the condition of the skin barrier.
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What Foods Should I Eat Or Avoid To Reduce My Risk Of Eczema
The connection between eczema and food allergies is unclear. If you have food allergies, then one of the reasons why you must avoid that food is that it may cause or worsen dermatitis. Examples of common allergies include peanuts, dairy, eggs, sugar, alcohol and gluten. Pay attention to what you eat. If your eczema flares up after you eat a certain food, then you might have an allergy to it.
If you dont have a food allergy then there are no foods, including chicken, that will cause or worsen your eczema.
Signs Of An Infection
Areas of skin affected by eczema can become infected. Signs of an infection can include:
- your eczema getting a lot worse
- fluid oozing from the skin
- a yellow crust on the skin surface or small yellowish-white spots appearing in the eczema
- the skin becoming swollen and sore
- a high temperature and generally feeling unwell
See your GP as soon as possible if you think your or your child’s skin may have become infected.
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What Is The Treatment For Hand Dermatitis
Patients with all forms of hand dermatitis should be most particular to:
- Minimise contact with irritants even water
- Use non-soap cleanser when washing hands, rinse carefully, and ensure hands are completely dry afterwards
- Note that cream cleansers are not antimicrobial soap and water or a sanitiser is needed for washing hands in order to destroy pathogens such as the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for COVID-19
- Completely avoid allergens that have been identified by patch testing
- Apply thick emollients before work/school and reapply after washing or when the skin dries out .
Vinyl gloves are less likely than rubber gloves to cause allergic reactions.
- They must be scrupulously clean and should have no holes.
- They should not be worn for long periods.
- Sweating under the gloves aggravates dermatitis.
- Lined gloves or inner cotton gloves improve comfort.
Severe acute flares of hand dermatitis are treated with short course oral prednisone for 24 weeks.
How Do You Determine The Cause Of The Allergy
You will first need to identify the trigger for the contact allergy in order to eliminate it from your daily routine. Although the cause may be obvious, it is still best to consult a doctor, as you may need to look back and explore your past activities to find the cause .
Your doctor will be able to identify more elusive triggers by asking detailed questions and conducting allergy tests. The allergologist will also be able to advise on what you should avoid, as an allergen can be found in several different products or objects.
What about a photoallergy?
Some contact allergies are triggered by the presence of a product in combination with sun exposure! More specifically, exposure to certain UV rays can cause an allergic reaction to a product in contact with the skin. Naturally, the face is exposed to the suns rays and is thus more susceptible.
In the case of photoallergic eczema, the most common causes are medicines and sunscreen.
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How Can I Treat Hand Eczema
According to the AAD, one of the first steps in treating hand eczema is to avoid the cause, if possible. You can also frequently apply a fragrance-free, preservative-free moisturizing hand cream to help your skin heal. Your doctor might be able to recommend one that will be effective.
If your symptoms are severe, consider meeting with a dermatologist to discuss treatment options. The AAAAI outlines some of the treatments you could receive for different issues hand eczema can cause.
For example, if your hands are extremely dry or cracked from eczema, your dermatologist may prescribe a topical steroid cream a treatment thats applied directly to the skin to help decrease any underlying inflammation that could be causing your symptoms.
If your dermatologist thinks allergies or AD may be triggering eczema on your hands, they may recommend oral antihistamines allergy medication taken by mouth to help prevent inflammation associated with allergic reactions. Some antihistamines may cause drowsiness, so your doctor may recommend taking them at night.
Sometimes, severely dry, cracked hands or blisters may lead to an infection. In such cases, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics in addition to other eczema therapies.
Depending on the underlying cause, you may also talk with your doctor about certain injections that may help treat eczema.
Role Of Skin Barrier And Genetics
Another factor which is required for normal functioning of the epidermis is proper control of skin proteases activity. SPINK is a protein that inhibits serine protease action in the skin. The SPINK gene is absent in Nethertons syndrome. In this syndrome, the patient has severe atopic dermatitis, scaling, and raised serum IgE level. Lack of SPINK results in uncontrolled serine protease elastase-2 activity. Increased protease activity negatively alters filaggrin and lipid processing thereby decreasing skin barrier function.
An impaired expression of antimicrobial peptides such as cathelicidin and defensins was detected in lesional skin in patients with atopic dermatitis.
Detergents cause stratum corneum damage by removal of the surface lipid layer and increase TEWL leading to irritant contact dermatitis.
Stratum corneum chymotryptic enzyme is a serine protease, which has a role in the desquamation of skin via the proteolysis of desmosomes in the stratum corneum. An elevated expression of hK7 or SCCE in the epidermis leads to increased proteolytic activity, pathological desquamation, and inflammation in many skin diseases such as Netherton syndrome, psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis.
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