According to the National Eczema Association, over 31 million Americans are affected by some form of eczema. A group of conditions that cause your skin to be irritated or inflamed, several types affect sufferers differently. Whatever type of eczema may be irritating you, the expert dermatologists at Rochester Regional Health will find individualized treatment for your skin.
Also called atopic dermatitis, eczema is a chronic skin disorder that causes dry, itch, scaly patches on your skin or scalp. It’s most often found in infants or very young children, and most babies will show signs of eczema within the first year of their life. These signs or symptoms may last through their teens and into adulthood. While atopic dermatitis is found in adults, it rarely starts in adulthood.
Eczema is not contagious, but it does tend to run in families, which suggests a genetic link. Often, eczema is found in people who suffer from asthma and allergies.
In babies, infants, and young children, eczema usually affects the face, the knees, and the outside of their elbows. This changes with age. Adults tend to find eczema on their arms, the back of their knees, on their hands and feet, and in the folds of their elbows.
While symptoms vary person-to-person, common symptoms include:
If you are experiencing an eczema flare-up, please resist the urge to scratch or rub your skin. This can lead to skin tears and infection.
The symptoms of eczema are similar to many other skin conditions. Your Rochester Regional dermatologist will offer a diagnosis and get you started on the road to treatment.
Researchers are not sure about the exact causes of eczema, but we do know that certain triggers can make it worse. For many, stress, dry conditions, cold and hot temperatures, certain fabrics, or detergents can cause you to experience a flare-up.
Your age, overall health, health history, whether or not you have allergies or asthma will all be considered when your provider is assessing you. They’ll also examine your skin thoroughly, and may recommend a patch test or a skin biopsy to rule out other skin conditions.
While there is no cure for atopic dermatitis, Rochester Regional Health’s expert dermatologists can reduce your itching and inflammation, prevent infection, and keep your skin moist. In severe cases, your dermatologist may prescribe medication, but the following treatments work for most people living with eczema.
Steroid creams are topical ointments that you put on your skin to ease inflammation, itching, and swelling. They are available in different strengths, but overuse can cause skin discoloration and thinness.
Working like a moisturizer, these creams provide intensive moisture while helping to repair your skin.
Taken orally (by the mouth), antihistamines may help ease your itching. Many antihistamines cause drowsiness, so please follow the instructions provided when taking them.
Methotrexate is an immunosuppressive medication that is prescribed for the long-term management of atopic dermatitis. There is a potential for liver damage, and your provider will help you decide if methotrexate is the right medication for you.
Antibiotics work by killing the bacteria that cause infections. When you scratch your irritated skin, you can bring bacteria to the area, which can lead to infection. If prescribed an antibiotic, please take it as prescribed until it is gone.
Often used if other treatments haven’t worked, this medicine was created to prevent rejection after organ transplants. It suppresses your immune system, which stops it from overreacting and can help to prevent flare-ups.
Two types of phototherapy can be used to treat eczema–ultraviolet light therapy and chemophototherapy (PUVA). Using UV light at specific wavelengths, light therapy targets your immune system to stop the responses that lead to inflammation. It can be used alongside other treatments.
Corticosteroids ease inflammation, which typically reduces itching. Reserved for severe cases, corticosteroids have serious side effects from long-term use and are only used to stop flare-ups in the short term.
Your Rochester Regional Health provider will help you find a treatment that fits your eczema, your lifestyle, and your health. While many come with side effects, they will talk with you about them and explain every step of your care.