Eczema is a chronic, recurrent skin condition that typically develops in early childhood but can continue or start during adulthood. Similar with asthma and allergies, eczema has a tendency to run in families.
Signs and symptoms of eczema
The skin condition usually starts as an itchy area and if scratched, breaks out into a rash. The rash can manifest on any part of the body but certain parts of the body are at high risk depending on the age of the individual.
Eczema usually appears as small-sized reddened bumps or vesicles that can drain or flake with continued scratching. If the skin is scratched, it becomes leathery or lichenified.
Dealing with the triggers
Avoidance of the triggers of itchiness must be the initial priority for individuals with eczema. Avoid clothing that can irritate the skin such as nylon, wool and other synthetic material. Cotton-based clothing must be used and washed with a mild detergent and a double-rinse cycle. Fabric softeners must be avoided.
Even though sun exposure can be useful for the condition, overexposure to the sun that results to sunburn must be avoided. Sunscreen must be applied liberally on the skin before any extended exposure to the sun.
Proper skin care
Proper skin care begins with suitable moisturizing and hydration that reduces the itchiness and development of eczema. Hydration of the skin is preserved by day-to-day application of moisturizing creams.
Regular bathing can be beneficial if done properly such as daily soaking in a warm water bath and followed by immediate application of a moisturizing cream over the entire body while the skin is still damp.
Medications for eczema
- Oral antihistamines – the itchiness can be partially controlled using low-sedating antihistamines during the day or with sedating variants at night.
- Topical steroids – these medications are the initial line of treatment for eczema and available in various forms such as creams, lotions, foams, ointments or solutions.
- Non-steroid creams – these include topical calcineurin inhibitors that have been approved for use for dealing with eczema in both adults and children over 2 years old. The advantage is that it will not cause skin thinning or changes in the pigment of the skin.
- Systemic steroids – in rare cases, a short course of systemic steroids are needed to attain control of the severe flare-ups of eczema. Care must be observed due to the rebound effect that includes worsening of the skin once the steroids are stopped. In case oral steroids are needed, the dosage must be controlled in a slow rate to reduce this risk.