Saturday, December 21, 2013

Eczema, What it is and Treatments

An Understanding of Eczema

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is skin that can be dry, rough, red, itchy, leathery, cracked, fluid filled blisters or inflamed.  Eczema is most seen in infants and they grow out of it as they get older.  Eczema is a very general and broad term, as it cannot describe what it looks like, how you got it, or how to treat it. Narrowing down the region of the body, how it looks, your environment and family history can begin to decide what type of eczema it is and treatment.

It is important to see a doctor when you have persistent eczema that doesn't go away.  Some people may be fine riding out the discomfort, however you need to verify that the condition isn't something worse like skin cancer.

Causes of Eczema

Sometimes eczema is an allergic reaction, like the most common atopic dermatitis. The most common form found in infants is not an allergic reaction, more dealing with the immune system not regulating itself properly yet.  Eczema is not contagious, but seasonal allergies, asthma, people with older mothers and people with food allergies have a greater risk of getting it.   The following are common causes of eczema:

- heredity (genetics)
- immune system not working properly
     - Dust and Sand
     - Mold and Pollen and Pet Dander
     - Cold, flu, or infection
- pollution, weather and environment
     - Being in extreme temperatures
     - Exposed to water for a long time
     - Hot showers and baths
     - Dry climate
     - Sweat
     - Stress
- exposure to ingredients that cause a reaction
     - Wool and Synthetic Fabrics
     - Soap and detergents
     - Perfume and Makeup
     - Chlorine and other industrial solvents
     - Cigarette Smoke
- problems with the skin barrier, cuts or scrapes

Treatment for Eczema

Moisturizers-  For dry, cracked, scaly and leathery skin a good moisturizer and refraining from taking hot baths and showers can aid in reducing the symptoms of eczema.

Hydrocortisone - If you feel it was caused by exposure to something, try over the counter hydrocortisone, if it persists you will need to see a doctor for stronger medication.

Steroids - For immune caused eczema and inflamed skin, a prescription corticosteroid can reduce inflammation by regulating skin cell growth and immune function. for bigger immune problems, especially if connected with asthma and other heredity factors, an oral corticosteroid may be necessary.

Antihistamines - Rashes and other allergic reactions can be relieved with such antihistamines such as Benadryl to reduce swelling.

If the above treatments have not worked, more drastic treatments may be needed:

Ultraviolet Light Therapy: UV light can suppress the overactive skin cells that are causing the inflammation.  Like all over exposure to light, there are risks, such as sunburns if not properly regulated, tanning and skin damage, and also leading to skin cancer.

Immunomodulators - Cream that controls inflammation and reduced immune reactions such as elidel and protopic.

Immunosupressants - Oral drugs that control the immune system such as azathioprine, cyclosporine and methotrexate as a last option.

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