The most common inflammatory skin condition, eczema affects an estimated 30 million Americans. A chronic condition, eczema can range from redness and mild itching to severe cases resulting in cracked, damaged skin. Children are often affected, some from birth, however it can occur in adults as well.
While symptoms vary greatly from person to person, most experience dry, sensitive skin and are familiar with the itch-scratch cycle that accompanies many forms of eczema, causing pain and discomfort. The area begins to itch, which then triggers the reactionary scratching, which damages the skin, leading to the release of inflammatory reactors in the body, and the cycle begins itself all over again.
What are the types of eczema?
Eczema is a general term for all types of dermatitis. The condition appears in many different forms, with the most common forms being:
• Atopic Dermatitis is the most severe and chronic form, generally beginning in childhood. We often find a family history of atopic dermatitis as well as a triad of asthma, seasonal allergies and eczema association with this form of dermatitis.
• Allergic Contact Dermatitis is a localized reaction when the skin comes in contact with certain substances or allergens such as fabrics, products or poison ivy. A skin allergy test, called a patch test, is effective in determining approximately 90% of the possible allergens causing allergic contact dermatitis so they can be eliminated.
• Dyshidrotic Dermatitis is characterized by itchy blisters on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet. Generally lasting for about 3 weeks, dyshidrotic eczema blisters are often allergy or stress-related.
How can I treat my eczema?
Eczema is a chronic condition, however one which can be managed by a variety of topical agents. Thicker creams to help lock in moisture and heal the skin barrier and gentle, fragrance-free cleansers are ideal as they minimize the chances of irritating your skin. For severe conditions or broken skin, a topical medication may be required to soothe discomfort and aid in healing.
How can a dermatologist help me with my eczema?
Eczema can be a very frustrating condition and one which can cause great emotional distress as well. Eczema can also easily be confused with other skin conditions. In order to treat the condition accordingly, proper diagnosis is key. Taking measures on your own behalf to manage your condition can be effective, however a board-certified dermatologist and dermatology physician assistant can work with you to create a treatment regimen that takes the guess work and a large amount of the frustration out of your eczema.
If you are ready to take action on your eczema, simply contact our office to schedule an appointment. You deserve happy, healthy skin and it is our goal at Dermatology and Laser Center of Charleston to make that happen.