Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a common skin inflammation and appears as scaly, flaky, and red patches of dry skin. This uncomfortable skin condition is characterized by burning skin and itching and scaly skin. Eczema sufferers normally have this condition on the elbows, knees, arms, and face. There is no complete cure and the symptoms can only disappear with proper management of the condition. Individuals with sensitive skin are more likely to develop eczema, which can be easily mistaken for really dry skin.
A type of eczema, contact dermatitis, can be triggered by poison oak and poison ivy. After exposure to such irritants, the individual may develop an allergic reaction that results in a red, inflamed, itchy, and scaly skin. This type of eczema can be controlled by topical lotions like Calamine and oral antihistamines like Benadryl. A bath of colloidal oatmeal (Aveeno) combined with 1 cupful per tub of water provides instant and soothing relief. Stubborn cases can be treated with oral steroid medications like Medrol and steroid creams like Aristocort. Consult with your physician before using steroids as a cure for eczema.
“Belt buckle dermatitis” or “jewelry dermatitis” results from contact with metals like nickel. Treatment means applying a steroid cream to the affected area several times a day. It is also advised that the patient avoid the offending metals.
Irritant eczema is caused by repeated exposure to harsh cleaners, chemicals, and soaps. This type of eczema is common in bartenders and health care worker who repeatedly wash their hands daily, and who never allow the hands to completely dry. Steroids like Cortaid are used to treat irritant eczema. One should also avoid soaps and cleaners as much as possible. Gloves may be worn to protect the hands from irritants. Aristocort may be prescribed if the rash persists.
Seborrheic dermatitis is linked to genetics and is more common in patients with Parkinson’s disease or in newborns. Seborrhea tends to be red, flaky, and flat yet it is not usually itchy. Seborrhea normally occurs on the chin, nose, behind the ears, around the lips, and eyebrows. A cream with one-half percent hydrocortisone is effective as the skin on the face is sensitive. Prevention is to keep the face dry and clean and to avoid harsh detergents and soaps.
Things that make eczema worse are clothing made of synthetic fabrics, which do not allow air to freely flow. Eczema can also be aggravated by heavily perfumed shampoos, moisturizers, and soaps. Certain moisturizers with sensitizing ingredients can also worsen eczema. Thus, it is best to stay away from such allergens and irritants.