More than 30 million Americans have eczema, and nearly half of them report feeling frustrated with the condition. Eczema is a group of conditions that can cause your skin to become itchy, red, inflamed, dry and scaly. Living with eczema can be an ongoing struggle.
Allergist and immunologist, Dr. Ulrike Ziegner at Riviera Allergy Medical Center in Redondo Beach, California, can help you get your eczema symptoms under control. Read on to learn steps you can take to better manage your condition and reduce eczema flare-ups.
What is eczema?
ATOPIC (=allergic) DERMATITIS is the most common form of eczema. It might start as early as in infancy and causes the skin to become dry, red and, above all, intensely itchy. The affected patches of skin typically feel leathery and rough. They can also ooze or get crusty, mostly due to superinfection with bacteria. The back of the knees, inner elbows, and hands are most commonly affected, in babies, face and trunk are mostly involved. Another form of eczema is called CONTACT DERMATITIS, where the cells under the skin react to products the skin is exposed to, causing various skin rashes.
While the exact cause is often unknown, patients with eczema appear to have an overactive immune system that reacts to certain triggers by producing inflammation. Dr. Ziegner will work with you to identify your triggers, so you can control your symptoms and live comfortably without eczema flares.
Lifestyle changes can help
The symptoms of eczema can impact your mood and overall sense of well-being. The good news is that eczema can be controlled to improve your symptoms and resume a good quality of life. Reducing skin irritation is the key to managing eczema. Here are some tips on how you can reduce skin irritation.
Keep a consistent temperature
Abrupt or extreme changes in temperature can cause eczema flare-ups. Try maintaining a consistent temperature by avoiding air that is too hot, too dry, too cold, or too humid. Keep your skin hydrated in the summer and limit your exposure to cold weather in the winter.
Everyone is different, and what irritates one person with eczema may not irritate someone else. Common irritants that can cause eczema flare-ups include fragrances and products that contain fragrances, such as soaps, shampoos and detergents. Other irritants can include chemicals, preservatives, dyes, synthetic fabrics, cigarette smoke, and household cleaners.
Avoid long baths and showers
People with eczema often lack a strong protective barrier on the top layer of their skin. This can cause skin moisture to escape and allow bacteria, mostly staphylococcus, to penetrate the affected skin. Bacterial toxins cause further eczema flares. You may lack an intact skin barrier, and soaking your skin in water may cause irritation. Try limiting your baths and showers to about 10-15 minutes to avoid problems.
Take care of your skin
Consistent skin care is a cornerstone of managing eczema. A good skin care regimen may include using non-fragranced moisturizing creams under barrier-creating ointments as well as wearing sunscreen to help keep your skin healthy.
Identify and limit allergens
There are many allergens that can trigger eczema, such as mold, dust, animal dander and product ingredients. Dr. Ziegner will work with you to identify allergens that may trigger your symptoms. Once identified, avoidance is a good start to help keep eczema flare-ups in check.
To learn more about treating eczema, book an appointment online or over the phone with Riviera Allergy Medical Center today.