Eczema is a skin condition that results in dry, cracked, itchy, and inflamed skin. It is often a long-term problem with symptoms that flare up, sometimes for no obvious reason. Although eczema can be persistent, there is a range of effective treatments available that can help control flare-ups and symptoms.
Atopic dermatitis, more commonly referred to as eczema, is more prevalent in children, but the condition can affect people across all age groups. Eczema can be an irritating problem that can cause the skin to become itchy and sore. Sometimes, only a small area of skin may be affected, such as the hands, the insides of the elbows, the backs of the knees, or the face and scalp, but for other people, it can be widespread, affecting the skin all over the body.
Eczema is usually a chronic problem, but it can improve significantly, or even clear completely, with the right treatment. With chronic eczema, there are often periods where symptoms clear up, and times when they sprout up, which are called flare-ups. Factors such as environmental irritants, stress, temperature changes, and bathing may trigger or worsen symptoms.
Common Eczema Symptoms
Symptoms of eczema can vary widely from person to person. Those with mild eczema may only have small areas that are occasionally itchy, but in more severe cases of widespread eczema, it can result in significant discomfort and intense itching in large parts of the body. The condition is not contagious and is often associated with the following symptoms:
- Dry, cracked skin
- Itchiness (pruritus)
- Inflamed skin
- Rash that may appear red on lighter skin, and darker brown, purple, or grey on darker skin
- Oozing and crusting of the skin
- Thickened skin
- Small, raised bumps on the skin
- Darkening of the skin around the eyes
- Raw, sensitive skin from scratching
Itchiness can result in disturbed sleep. Scratching the affected skin can lead to problems such as bleeding and infection. Signs of infection include pus, yellow crust or scabs, small yellowish-white spots on the skin, and flu-like symptoms. You should see a healthcare provider for treatment as soon as possible if you think your or your child’s skin may have become infected.
Treatment Guide for Eczema
Your healthcare provider can diagnose your skin condition by examining your skin, assessing your symptoms, and reviewing your medical history. Sometimes, further testing, such as a patch test, may be recommended to identify a possible allergy or to rule out other skin diseases.
There is a range of treatments that can help control eczema, and sometimes, it is trial and error to find the treatment that is right for you. Treatment will depend on the severity and the location of eczema and other factors such as age and overall health. Sometimes, a combination of treatments may be necessary, which could include:
Emollients or Barrier Creams
Medical moisturizing treatments are applied directly to the affected area to soothe and hydrate the skin and create a protective film over the skin to help trap moisture. Some emollients may also contain other ingredients that help reduce the itching or prevent infection. Emollients can come in the form of a cream, ointment, gel, spray, and lotion, and as a soap substitute.
Medicated treatments are available in various strengths that are applied directly to the skin to reduce inflammation and irritation and promote healing. They are often a first-line treatment when emollients do not help symptoms and are usually used short-term to bring an eczema flare-up under control. Overuse may cause side effects, such as thinning skin.
Topical Immunomodulators (TIMs)
These medications are applied directly to the affected area and are used to regulate the local immune response of the skin. They work by altering the immune system to help block one of the chemicals that can contribute to flare-ups of eczema. This helps to reduce inflammation and make the skin less itchy. This treatment is usually only considered if eczema doesn’t respond to other treatments.
Medication is used to relieve symptoms of allergies. May be recommended for flare-ups related to environmental allergens such as pollen or dust mites.
Medications to treat infections.
Light Therapy (phototherapy)
Involves exposing the affected area to controlled amounts of ultraviolet (UV) light to help improve symptoms of eczema. UV light can affect the immune system, helping to reduce the inflammatory response in the skin.
Used to treat severe eczema. Treatment involves applying a corticosteroid ointment and sealing in the medication with a wrap or dressing to hydrate and promote the healing of severely damaged skin.
Other medical treatments, such as medications for inflammation or injectable biologics, may be explored for people with moderate to severe eczema who don’t respond well to other treatments. Therapies such as counseling, relaxation, behavior modification, and biofeedback are also available and may be a consideration if you are finding your eczema difficult to control.
Personalized Medical Care for Eczema
If you have troublesome eczema, don’t delay. Contact Show Low Family Clinic for the high-quality medical care you deserve. We provide confidential, compassionate, and personalized medical care to patients in Arizona and Washington.
If you would like to schedule your visit or learn more about our services, call us at (928) 251-2914 or simply request your appointment online now. We currently offer in-office visits to those located in Show Low, AZ, and virtual visits to those located throughout the state of Washington.