If you have been diagnosed with eczema by our dermatologist in Baton Rouge, you know what it is, but many people have skin conditions that have not been diagnosed. Eczema affects about one-third of the population of the U.S. and there are different types. The different stages of the skin disease may have different symptoms, such as inflamed, red patches that are rough, cracked or itchy. Blisters may also form.
Eczema may disappear on its own especially when it occurs in children, but it can remain in some form on the body throughout life. Eczema is not curable in the traditional sense, but the symptoms can be controlled to some extent through lifestyle habits and medications. Here are a few things to understand about eczema:
• It is not contagious
• Foods can trigger symptoms, mainly dairy and nuts
• Symptoms vary with each person but are often scaly, itchy patches on the skin
• Other triggers include pollen, air pollution and ambient smoke
Types of Eczema
Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema but there are others. Some of the other types of eczema you may experience are:
• Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when the skin touches an allergen that the immune system distinguishes as foreign
• Nummular eczema is circular scaly, crusted and itchy patches
• Neurodermatitis is scaly patches on the forearms, head, lower legs and wrists. It may be caused by an itchy insect bite
• Stasis dermatitis is on the lower leg and may be related to venous insufficiency
• Seborrheic eczema is scaly, yellowish patches on the face and scalp
• Dyshidrotic eczema erupts on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It is usually in the form or blisters
The symptoms of atopic dermatitis may vary according to your age. Eczema that occurs in infants is dry, scaly patches that itch intensely. Atopic dermatitis usually appears on a person before they reach five years old. Half of those people will continue the disease into adulthood but the symptoms usually change as they grow older. A common experience among eczema sufferers is flare-ups. There may be periods when the symptoms worsen and other times where it appears the disease is almost gone.
The most common symptoms in children below two years old are patches of rashes on the scalp and cheeks. The patches often seem to develop bubbles and then leak fluid. They may cause excessive itchiness that keeps infants awake at night. If the patches are excessively scratched, the area may become infected.
Children from two years to puberty usually develop rashes behind the knees and elbows. They also commonly appear on the wrists, neck, between the buttock’s cheeks, ankles and legs. The rashes may become bumpy and change in color. As the patches thicken, they may develop knots and itch incessantly.
Adults commonly get eczema patches on the backs of the elbows or knees and the nape of the neck. In some cases, the rash can cover a large portion of the body that have more scales than the rashes in children. The patches may be very itchy and too much scratching can lead to infection. For some people, the rashes may appear on the face and around the eyes. If a person has eczema as an infant but it clears up later, they may experience dry skin, hand eczema, eye problems and sensitive skin throughout life.
One important reason to treat eczema with our dermatologist in Baton Rouge is to control the appearance of the patches. If you let them go untreated, it may affect the appearance of your skin. If you scratch the patches a lot and if the skin becomes infected the skin will look worse and it is a vicious circle because the more you scratch the more acute the itchiness becomes.
Treatments for Eczema
As mentioned above there is no cure for eczema but our dermatologist in Baton Rouge may treat the affected skin to prevent flare-ups, reduce itching and infection. When you have a consultation, we will assess the age of the affected person the type of symptoms that are present and the general state of overall health before prescribing a course of treatment. For some people, eczema may go away after some time and with others, it may remain throughout their life.
One or a combination of treatments may be able to help control your symptoms. Once the symptoms have disappeared from an area of skin, it still needs to be watched because it could flare up again.
• Topical medications – corticosteroid ointments and creams are anti-inflammatory medicines that relieve most of the symptoms of eczema. They treat itchiness and inflammation. You can buy these over-the-counter, but the amount of medication in the cream will be minimal and may not have the effect you want. When you get a prescription treatment from our dermatologist in Baton Rouge, the active ingredient will be much stronger
• Oral or intravenous corticosteroids – these are either given as a tablet or through an injection. They are usually prescribed if topical creams are not effective. This type should only be used for a short time. Our dermatologist will oversee the use of internal medications to make sure you take the proper amount
• Antibiotics – these may be prescribed along with other medications if an infection has developed
• Antiviral and antifungal medications – these may be prescribed along with other medications if a viral infection or fungus has developed
Treatments that you can do at home may help prevent flare-ups. Before starting any home treatment we recommend you talk to our dermatologist. Your eczema should be diagnosed, and the type and severity determined before you start to treat it at home. If you use the wrong home remedy, you could make it worse, not better. Our dermatologist will recommend the right home remedies for your unique condition. Some of the things we may recommend are:
• Never take a hot bath. Make sure the water is just lukewarm
• Apply moisturizer within three minutes after your bath to lock in any excess moisture on your skin. The best moisturizer for your skin type and eczema type will be recommended by our dermatologist
• Use the moisturizer every day
• Avoid tight-fitting clothing. Wear only light cotton, and loose-fitting garments
• Use the right kind of soap and facial cleanser. We will recommend the right kind of soap to use for your body and face. You need to be careful what type of soap you use and avoid deodorant soap on your face
• Avoid roughly drying your skin after bathing. Just pat yourself dry
• Avoid excessive exercise or games that make you sweat
• Learn your food or other triggers for a flare-up
• A humidifier will help keep your indoor environment moist
• Be very careful not to break the skin when you feel like scratching the incessant itching
What are the Most Common Causes of Eczema?
There may be more than one cause for your eczema flare-ups, including heredity, food and environmental factors. Some of the common causes are:
• Skin irritants such as detergents, soaps, disinfectants, shampoos and makeup or other skincare products
• Foods such as certain fresh fruits, meats, soy products, nuts and seeds, eggs, dairy products, wheat or veggies
• Common allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, plant pollen, mold and dandruff
• Certain microbes such as fungi, viruses, bacteria
• Climates such as very hot or cold weather, dry atmosphere and excessive sweating
• Anxiety and stress may not cause eczema but it can worsen already existing symptoms
• Hormonal changes during pregnancy, menstruation and menopause. Certain medications may not be prescribed as long as you are pregnant or breastfeeding. There will be other treatments to use until after delivery and breastfeeding.
What to Expect
When you have a consultation with our dermatologist in Baton Rouge, your skin will be examined and the type of eczema you have may be diagnosed. We may ask if you have a family history of eczema when your symptoms started if you noticed any particular trigger for the symptoms and what medications you have tried as treatment. We may take a small piece of skin to do a biopsy to rule out other possible skin conditions. The doctor may also recommend patch testing in which small amounts of different substances are put on your skin and covered. Over the next few days, the areas are examined to see if you have reacted to any of the substances and the type of reaction. This will help the doctor diagnose different types of allergies that may be at the root of your eczema.
Get In Touch with Us for More Information
If you are suffering from any type of eczema, you may have been told that there is no cure and you just have to do the best you can to control the symptoms. While it’s true there is no cure, there are treatments that may reduce the symptoms. To learn more, we warmly invite you to reach out and make an appointment with Nunnally Dermatology. At our convenient location in Baton Rouge, our caring and dedicated team of professionals will be pleased to explain your options in greater detail and answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to set up your consultation – we look forward to speaking with you!