Eczema is a chronic condition that leads to dry, inflamed and scaly skin. It affects up to 15% of the population and can occur at any age, including young children.
Ditch the eczema itch
Scratching an itch may feel satisfying, but when it comes to treating your eczema, it’s best to be hands off. A variety of factors can trigger eczema, like the foods you eat, general skin dryness and even how stressed you're feeling.
The good news is that our care team knows how to treat eczema for kids and adults alike. The go-to method for better managing your eczema is with medications you can swallow or apply directly to your skin. Your doctor will walk you through the treatment options so you can ditch the eczema itch and live life more comfortably.
One of the biggest frustrations for people living with eczema is dry, scaly skin that can spread all over the body. Other symptoms include:
- Cracks across skin, especially hands and feet
- Creasing on the face
- Bumps on skin caused by blocked hair follicles
- Increased skin pigmentation, especially in people with darker complexions
In addition to being exposed triggers, experts agree that eczema has a strong genetic component. That means your eczema can be linked to other conditions that run in families, such as asthma, nasal allergies and food allergies.
Researchers are starting to identify specific genetic defects linked to eczema. We're collecting a deeper understanding how mutations in genes that code for specific proteins — such as the important skin protector, filaggrin — can take a toll on eczema.
Many things can aggravate eczema and keep it active, so it's important to understand your unique eczema trigger. We'll work with you to create a treatment plan for managing your symptoms.
Contact dermatitis is a form of eczema that appears when your bare skin touches something you’re allergic to, like certain metals or cosmetics.
Examples of irritants that can trigger or aggravate eczema include:
- Scented soaps and products
- Cleaning products
- Strong chemicals
Food allergies alone can be very serious, and they can also create a ripple effect for other conditions, like eczema. Food is an especially common eczema trigger for kids under age 5. Food-triggered eczema will normally show symptoms in 2–3 hours for both children and adults.
While we know it’s easier said than done, try to avoid scratching at your eczema. If you scratch too hard and break through your skin, you increase your risk of infection and allow other allergens and irritants into your body. This leads to a vicious cycle that keeps the eczema active.
Antihistamines can help provide relief for your itchy skin.
There are several things you can avoid to help keep your skin hydrated, such as:
- Detergent soaps
- Excessive bathing
- Hot, dry environments
- Hot showers
To help keep your skin hydrated, it’s a good idea to use non-scented products that have low water content, like petroleum jelly. Products with lower water content help protect your skin because they don't evaporate as easily as products with a higher water content. It’s best to apply these products after a lukewarm bath or shower in the morning.
Certain skin infections like staph infections or herpes simplex virus (HSV) can aggravate your eczema and create a very serious reaction that will need antiviral drugs for treatment.
If you think your eczema might be caused by a skin infection, contact a medical professional right away.
Stress can trigger your eczema, which is stressful in itself. At the same time, eczema can also cause stress. We understand how this may feel like an endless loop, but rest assured that our doctors are here to support you.
To better pinpoint your skin condition, your doctor will consider your symptoms and skin appearance over time. While there aren’t specific blood tests available to diagnose eczema, we can learn more about the unique triggers for your eczema.
Once we pinpoint your eczema trigger, we'll work with you to outline the most comfortable and effective path to wellness. A common way to manage and treat eczema is with a medication. The following medications can help take care of mild to severe eczema:
- Oral corticosteroids: Pills prescribed by your doctor that are taken to treat severe eczema. A common medication is prednisone.
- Topical corticosteroids: Creams that you apply directly to your skin and can vary in potency.
- Topical calcineurin inhibitors: Also called tacrolimus and pimecrolimus creams, these are useful for treating eczema on your face.
In the event that your body isn’t responding to prescribed medications to treat severe eczema, your doctor might recommend 2 additional treatments:
- Ultraviolet light with phototherapy