Hallmarks of atopic dermatitis, or eczema, are itchy, red, inflamed skin that often appears rough and scaly and can swell, ooze and crust. We aren’t sure why some children and adults get eczema and others don’t, but an estimated 35 million Americans suffer from this skin condition.
It affects significantly more children than adults. In fact, 70% of cases start in children under 5 years old. Understanding how to treat eczema flares can bring much-needed relief and help you live well with eczema.
What is eczema?
The word “eczema” simply means skin irritation. Children and adults with eczema have an immune system that works too hard. Your immune system protects you from foreign invaders that can cause infections and diseases.
When you have eczema, your immune system is overreacting to something and triggering an inflammatory response in your skin. Learning and avoiding your triggers plays a key role in managing eczema.
Having eczema doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong. It’s not a result of your lifestyle or choices you’re making in your daily life. If you have a family member with eczema, you’re more likely to have eczema, too.
People who have allergies or asthma are also more likely to have eczema. That’s because having allergies means your immune system is hypersensitive to certain allergens.
Common eczema triggers
People with eczema often find that certain things trigger a flare-up. If you have eczema, you may not have symptoms all of the time. For most adults and children with eczema, symptoms tend to come and go.
Learning your triggers and limiting your exposure to triggers can help reduce the frequency and severity of flares. While everyone is different, the following are some common eczema triggers:
- Pet dander
- Extreme changes in temperature
- Certain foods: wheat, dairy, eggs
- Fruit juices
- Scratchy fabrics
- Scented laundry detergents
- Household cleaning products
Managing eczema flares
When symptoms strike, you can take steps to get relief. Try these tips next time you get a flare.
People with eczema have skin that is sensitive and dry, making it important to keep skin moisturized, especially during painful flares. When you have symptoms of a flare-up, we often recommend using a moisturizing cream that contains hydrocortisone, a steroid hormone that soothes inflammation.
Dr. Ulrike can prescribe a medicated cream to help relieve your symptoms during flares. It’s good practice for people with eczema to moisturize their skin more than once a day. If Dr. Ulrike prescribes a medicated cream, you’ll receive instructions on how often to use it.
Keep an eye on temperature
Low humidity can extract moisture from your skin and aggravate eczema flares. At the same time, air that is too moist can irritate your sensitive skin as well. Using a combination humidifier and dehumidifier to prevent the air from being too dry or too moist can soothe eczema flares and bring you some relief.
Stress is a trigger for eczema. Many patients report that their symptoms worsen when they’re feeling stressed. If you’re having a flare, any additional stress can make matters worse.
When you notice symptoms of a flare, manage stressors as much as possible. This may mean delegating a few daily responsibilities, easing up your load at work, and engaging in relaxing activities like yoga, tai chi or listening to soothing music. Studies show that relaxation techniques help ease eczema.
Getting eczema flares under control can help you live more happily and improve your overall well-being. For more information on eczema treatment at Riviera Allergy Medical Center, call our Redondo Beach, California, office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ulrike. You can also book your appointment online.