How to Manage Eczema Also Known as Atopic Dermatitis

Posted by on Nov 15, 2013 in News | 0 comments

Scratching imageEczema or atopic dermatitis is a skin condition where the skin is itchy, dry, and inflamed. It may appear as red patches with small bumps. It is more common in infants and children than adults. Eczema occurs in children with family history of asthma, hay fever and seasonal allergies. It can appear anywhere on the body but typically in babies, eczema affects the arms, legs, cheeks and scalp. In children, it affects the back of the neck, elbows and the back of the knees. In adults, it affects face, wrists, hands and forearms. Eczema is a chronic condition where it flares up at times and goes away for a while. There is no cure for eczema but you may be able to control the itchy rashes with self-care. If you or your child has itchy rashes for the first time in your life, you should see a doctor. The following self-care tips are for those who have eczema that was diagnosed by a physician.

Treatments of eczema include keeping the skin moist and hydrated. Avoid scratching your skin and use ointments such as petroleum jelly, Vaseline and Aquaphor to apply the affected area. You can also use thick creams such as Nutraderm, Eucerin and Cetaphil to keep the skin moist. Lotions are less affected because they have more water content. But if you use lotion, make sure to use the ones that are free of fragrances, chemicals and alcohol. Take a lukewarm bath and be sure to use unscented soap. Apply ointment or thick cream on the affected area and cover it with wet dressing to prevent the skin from drying and itching. Topical steroids are often recommended to treat mild eczema and you can get hydrocortisone 1% cream without prescription. You can apply one to two times daily on the affected skin. You will need a prescription for stronger steroid creams. Studies showed that wet dressing placed over topical steroid works very well for controlling eczema. If your eczema is very bothersome at night, you may take diphenhydramine (Benadryl) to relieve the itching. Keep in mind that Benadryl causes drowsiness. There are non-sedating over-the-counter antihistamines available and those are loratadine (Claritin) and cetirizine (Zyrtec). If you have a severe flare, your doctor may prescribe you oral steroid (Prednisone).

In order to prevent eczema flare or to reduce eczema symptoms, try to stay cool and avoid being in a very dry environment. Take a daily bath or shower. Use mild or unscented soap and detergents. Try to keep the skin moist when there is sudden change in temperatures. Avoid wearing heavy perfume or cologne. Try not to wear clothes that are made of wool or lanolin. Lastly, keep your stress level low and avoid exposure to cigarette smoke and chemical pollutants.

Contributed by Patricia Hsiao M.D.

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