Living With Eczema: Learn About Treatment Options

Your skin is itchy, red and maybe even inflamed. What's going on? It looks like it's time to call the dermatologist. The skin care pro can assess your condition and make a diagnosis.

So you make an appointment and go into the office. That's when the doctor tells you that you have eczema. To start with, eczema is a completely common skin issue. It affects roughly 28 million people in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

If your dermatologist has made an eczema diagnosis, understanding what it is and how to treat it can help you to heal. And there is no need to stress as you will heal. There are plenty of treatment options that can take the sting out of eczema and eliminate your symptoms.

Avoiding Exposure

In some cases, there is something that triggers an eczema flare. Keep in mind; eczema isn't contagious. You don't get it from brushing up against someone else with the condition or using the same furniture (such as sleeping in bed or sitting on a couch) with them.

Triggers don't necessarily cause an eczema flare up. Instead, they set it off or make it worse. Eczema is a result of genetics interacting with an environmental trigger. That means when you come in contact with your trigger (these differ based on the individual person), your immune system kicks on.

You need both parts of the equation, the genetic and the environmental parts, to equal eczema. The trigger could be a common irritant, such as fragrances or soaps, or it could be something else such as dry skin, stress or even excessive sweating.

Understanding Your Type

There isn't just one type of eczema. That's right; eczema isn't just eczema. There is a total of eight different types of this skin condition. The specific treatment that works best for you depends on which type you have.

The eight different types of eczema include atopic dermatitis, hand eczema, contact or allergic contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, lichen simplex chronicus, stasis dermatitis, nummular eczema and seborrheic dermatitis. Your dermatologist needs to look at the rash, hear about what set it off and follow your case to determine which type you have.

After determining your type of eczema, your dermatologist will start the treatment. Don't assume that your friend's eczema treatment will work for you. It's possible that they have a totally different type of dermatitis. And this means that the two of you will also need different treatments.

This is also why it's absolutely essential for you to see a qualified medical professional. Simply buying a lotion that says it's made to treat eczema may not work for the type of eczema you have. Treatments often include prescription medications such as topical calcineurin inhibitors, topical corticosteroids and oral (systemic) meds.

Ways to Treat Eczema at Home

Along with your doctor's prescription, you can help your eczema heal at home. This doesn't mean going out and buying every over-the-counter option out there. Instead, there are a few simple steps that you can take to reduce the itching and uncomfortable feeling.

Even though it's tempting to scratch the skin, don't. This will aggravate the area and may make it worse. Along with adding pain to the itch, you may leave the skin open to infection. If you just can't stop scratching, cut your fingernails as short as possible. Without nails, you can't scratch your skin.

When it comes to bathing, turn the heat down and try a lukewarm bath or shower. Hot water can dry the skin and make your irritation worse. Avoid soaps that have fragrances or dyes in them. Your dermatologist can recommend or prescribe a bathing product that won't trigger another eczema flare-up.

After bathing your doctor may suggest a fragrance-free moisturizer that will keep your skin from drying out.

Do you think you might have eczema? Call the medical providers of Associated Dermatologists for an appointment.

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