Have you noticed any red blotches on your skin? Maybe some blisters? Do they ooze or crust? Is your skin scaly? Do these skin conditions come and go? There’s a very good chance you could have eczema. Eczema isn’t just a child’s group of skin conditions, it can affect adults, as well. In fact, 17 percent of the population suffers from eczema. With adult-onset eczema, sometimes the flare ups of the condition disappear as suddenly as they appeared; it can be unpredictable.
Eczema can be chronic for many people, but it can be controlled with the proper treatment. Skin conditions can be hard for medical professionals to diagnose and treat, because so many conditions can resemble other conditions. From bug bites and rashes to allergic reactions and diseases, doctors have a lot to sort through in figuring out what a person’s skin is reacting or responding to. When it comes to eczema, there are a few signs and symptoms that make it obvious this is what the patient is suffering from:
- Eczema always causes itchiness where its affecting the skin.
- Rashes usually occur on face, arms, knees, hands or feet, but can affect other areas, as well.
- The skin will appear dry, thickened, or scaly.
- The skin can appear reddish and then turn brown on fair-skinned people.
- On darker skin tones, eczema can change the pigmentation, so it appears lighter or darker.
It is still unknown what causes eczema, but it is thought to be linked to an overactive response of the immune system to some irritant. However, eczema is commonly found in families with histories of both allergies and/or asthma. You cannot spread eczema to another person.
Some reasons for flare ups include: touching rough textures, exposure to something hot or cold, exposure to certain soaps, cleaners, or detergents, exposure to animal dander, having a cold or upper respiratory infection, or stress.
There is no cure for eczema, but it can be managed. Doctors will prescribe creams (emollients) to deter itching and keep the skin moisturized. Cold compresses and antihistamines also can help reduce itching. Steroid creams, like hydrocortisone 1% (as well as prescription-level creams) can be helpful in reducing inflammation. In extreme cases, oral corticosteroids will be prescribed or antibiotics, if the areas have become infected.
During an exam, your doctor may order an allergy test to see if you have and possible allergies that are triggering the symptoms.
To try and avoid a future flare up, you should:
- Keep your skin moisturized.
- Reduce stress.
- Avoid sudden changes in temperature.
- Avoid sweating/overheating.
- Avoid materials like wool that cause scratching.
- Avoid harsh soaps/cleaners/detergents
- Stay away from foods that you may be allergic or sensitive to.
If you have an unidentified skin condition or think you may have eczema, you’ll want to get it checked out right away. Dr. Kordonowy of Internal Medicine, Lipid & Wellness of Fort Myers will examine you and prescribe you with the proper treatment based on your symptoms. To book a consult, click here or call 239-362-3005, ext. 200. Dr. Kordonowy of Internal Medicine, Lipid & Wellness is a concierge, patient membership physician in Fort Myers, and provides direct primary care services.