Understanding Eczema

The red, scaly, itchy skin associated with eczema can ruin anyone’s day. It may be especially frustrating when you’re moisturizing your skin every chance you get, and still your skin dries, cracks, and demands a good scratch. And you know that scratching the itch only makes things worse.

 

To add insult to injury, sometimes the itch appears long before the rash. That’s because eczema likely starts with your genetics and immune system — not your skin. Still, protecting your skin from its effects is one of the best ways to manage eczema. Sound confusing?

 

Dr. Ulrike Ziegner is a highly respected allergist and immunologist, who is also the founder of Riviera Allergy Medical Center. She can help you sort through the confusion regarding eczema and how it’s treated.

Understanding eczema

Eczema is a general term that refers to several types of dermatitis (skin inflammation) and is likely caused by issues with your immune system and genetics.

 

Individuals with eczema often have a faulty immune system that overreacts to certain triggers. This leads to the inflammation that causes the red, itchy and painful skin symptoms common to most types of eczema.

 

Research has also shown that some people who have eczema have a mutation affecting the gene that creates filaggrin, which is a protein that helps your body maintain a protective barrier on the uppermost layer of skin. Reduced filaggrin levels restrict your skin’s ability to retain moisture. Without this healthy moisture barrier, your skin becomes dry and more prone to infections.

 

There are several types of eczema, including:

 

Atopic dermatitis

 

Atopic dermatitis, which is the most common form of eczema, typically begins in childhood and is often accompanied by asthma and hay fever.

 

Contact dermatitis

 

Contact dermatitis arises from direct contact with various irritants, such as harsh chemicals, certain fabrics, or pet dander

Dyshidrotic eczema

 

Dyshidrotic eczema causes small, itchy blisters on your hands and feet that often lead to severely dry, cracked, and peeling skin

 

Discovering the type of eczema you have often helps refine our treatment strategies.

So, is it eczema or dry skin?

Eczema causes dry skin, but dry skin isn’t always due to eczema. Sun exposure, medical conditions like thyroid issues, a new skin care product, and lack of proper hydration can all deplete your skin’s moisture barrier.

 

Common symptoms that may indicate eczema rather than simple dry skin include:

 

 

Eczema symptoms often come and go, worsening for a time and then seeming to fade away, only to reappear after a few months.  

Managing your eczema

Seeing your allergist is often the best first step in managing your eczema. We can identify the type of eczema you’re experiencing and provide treatment with one of many medications or therapies available to control your symptoms.

 

We can also recommend the best at-home moisturizers and other skin care products for your skin type. Additionally, we’ll help you identify your eczema triggers and offer practical steps for avoiding these substances or activities.

 

Common triggers that can bring on an eczema flare include:

 

 

There is no known “cure” for eczema. At Riviera Allergy, however, we partner with you to control your symptoms and prevent eczema from spoiling your day and affecting your skin’s health. To learn more about eczema and how to manage it, schedule your eczema consultation with Dr. Ziegner today.  

You Might Also Enjoy...

Is It a Cold, Sinusitis, or Allergic Rhinitis?

A cold can cause nasal congestion and a runny nose. Sinusitis shares overlapping symptoms, and so do nasal allergies. Could that cold be an allergy instead? Understand the signs that distinguish these conditions.

Tips for Eliminating Dermatitis Triggers

Living with the intense itching of dermatitis can make life miserable. Like many chronic conditions, learning how to manage the problem can greatly improve your quality of life.

Childhood vs. Adult-Onset Asthma

Not only can you develop asthma as an adult, it can actually hit you harder. Delays in diagnosis can make adult-onset asthma more challenging. An allergist and immunologist can provide answers and the right treatment.