Eczema is one of the most common skin conditions today. It is common in babies and adults alike, and can be quite frustrating. The condition starts with a red, irritable, itchy patch on the skin. For babies, the patches can appear on the chin, cheeks, chest or any other part of the body. Since it is itchy, continued scratching further irritates the skin causing inflammation. It is advisable to consult a dermatologist immediately you notice these patches on your baby or yourself.
One of the most important facts to know about eczema is that it is not contagious. While the cause of the condition is unknown, one cannot catch it from associating or touching anyone who has it.
According to researchers, the condition is usually aggravated by a combination of environmental and genetic triggers. This means that when an allergen or irritant gets close, the body switches on the defense mechanism. The immune system, in an effort to fight off the irritant, causes the inflammation on the skin. This inflammation becomes the mark of most eczema types.
Eczema has several distinct types, all of which are characterized by redness and itching which may result in skin blistering and peeling. These eczema types are as follows:
• Atopic and contact dermatitis
• Dyshidrotic and nummular eczema
• Seborrheic and stasis dermatitis
The key to effective treatment and management of the condition is to know the exact type of which you suffer. It is also important to know the triggers that aggravate the symptoms so as to avoid further skin irritation. Some of the common triggers include skin ointments, lotions, soaps, detergents, and substances with high alcohol content as well as other chemical irritants.
It is important to note that treatments and management vary depending on the type and severity of the eczema. There are various home treatments that are effective in alleviating the discomfort of the symptoms. Additionally, prescription medication can effectively ease the stinging itch. In addition to cleaning and moisturizing the skin regularly, here are some additional measures that help in management and treatment of eczema.
In most cases, doctors will prescribe oral medication for eczema when the topical creams are not effective. The medication works by slowing the immune system’s response, thereby reducing the condition’s severity.
Some of the most common oral medications include oral steroids, methotrexate, azathioprine, mycophenolate mofetil and cyclospiorine. While the medication reduces eczema, it does come with some side effects. The most severe side effects include high blood pressure, increased risk of infection and nausea.
The most severe of eczema cases are known to respond to light therapy. The procedure usually involves exposing the affected area to ultraviolet light. While UVB is the most commonly used light in the treatment of the condition, some types of eczema respond better to UVA. National Eczema Association confirmed that phototherapy improved the symptoms of up to 70% of severe cases.
Phototherapy is carried out in the hospital by an experienced dermatologist. The procedure is carried out at least twice a week. The dermatologist can increase or decrease the frequency of the phototherapy sessions depending on how well the skin responds to the treatment.
These are medications that are meant to modify the immune system so as to reduce skin inflammation in the affected areas. They come in form of creams. Some of the most common inhibitors include pimecrolimus and tacrolimus. These inhibitors are available only on prescription basis from experienced medical practitioners.
The inhibitors are not without side effects. These creams can cause itching, a burning sensation or skin irritation. These side effects are common in the first few times of application. Other less severe side effects include blisters and cold sores on the skin.
Severe eczema can be very uncomfortable. Wet dressings can effectively reduce the severity of the symptoms, and give relief for hours, even day! As simple as wet dressings sound, they have to be administered by a licensed practitioner such as a doctor or a nurse.
The doctor usually spreads a corticosteroid cream on the area of the skin that is affected by eczema. The area is then covered by a wet bandage then a dry bandage on top. If you would like to apply the bandages yourself at home, the doctor can show you the procedures to take as well as the supplies you need.
While eczema can make life unbearable, it can be managed well and the symptoms can be successfully alleviated. There are many therapies and medications available today that assist in reducing the symptoms and stopping the severity of the condition. All you need is to consult with a dermatologist and your journey to recovery is set.
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