Eczema - Patients ask Dr. Ringpfeil answers
Please feel free to use the blog below to share information about Eczema or to ask Dr. Franziska Ringpfeil a question that might be of interest to others.
Atopic dermatitis is a very itchy chronic skin condition that can affect people of all ages. It is commonly known as eczema. Atopic dermatitis is most prevalent in childhood and is associated with a family history of asthma, seasonal allergies and pencillin allergy. Although atopic dermatitis may resolve over time, many individuals experience occasional flares into adulthood.
Actinic keratoses develop in sun-exposed areas. A single or several lesions may be present. The signs and symptoms of an actinic keratosis include a rough or scaly, flat to slightly raised bump that ranges in color from red to brown. Intermittent itching, burning or tenderness in the affected area can occur. Actinic keratoses are readily diagnosed upon professional evaluation. Rarely, further testing is needed, such as a skin biopsy, where a small sample is collected and sent for microscopic analysis.
When atopic dermatitis is active treatment with a topical steroid is often needed to achieve control. A topical steroid is not to be used for extended periods of time or to prevent flares. A two week course should be sufficient to quiet a flare. Taking an oral antihistamine can also be effective in controlling itch. For very severe widespread flares a course of oral steroid (prednisone) may be needed.
The key to managing atopic dermatitis is proper daily skin care. It is important to bathe with a gentle soap in cooler water and to apply a moisturizer liberally after bathing. Avoiding irritating fabrics such as wool can also be helpful. In some children food allergies may play a role and evaluation by an allergist may be necessary.
Since atopic dermatitis flares can be triggered by extremes in heat or cold, rapid temperature fluctuations and sweating, maintaining environmental temperature without excessive humidity or dryness is ideal. Clothing should be constructed of non-irritating absorbent material. Clothing should be laundered in fragrance-free and dye-free detergent and rinsed well. The use of dryer fabric softener sheets should be avoided.
Excessive bathing should be avoided. Excessive washing can strip the skin of oils. Key to prevention is the use of gentle soap, cooler water and liberal daily application of moisturizer. Bubble baths should be avoided since the detergent can be drying to the skin.
Stress can also sometimes stimulate an atopic dermatitis flare. Ensuring opportunity for adequate rest can be helpful. Stressful life situations should be managed with professional guidance or relaxation techniques such as yoga.
Seeking treatment from a qualified health care provider at the onset of activity can prevent widespread flares.