Eczema, commonly known as Atopic Eczema or Dermatitis, is a skin disease in which there is dryness, itchiness, inflammation of the skin. It is an irritating and frustrating condition as it involves severe itching of the skin, which greatly reduces the quality of life and also hinders sufferers from performing everyday activities.
Eczema generally affects individuals in early childhood stages, although the disease can occur to any individual from any age group. The skin condition can become complicated and can cause soreness, sleep disturbance and is often ridden with infections. Atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis cannot be cured but if it is managed and treated at the right time, then it will have less impact on patient’s life and can help improve the deteriorating condition of the patient.
The exact reasons behind the cause of eczema are still unknown and the skin condition is considered to be caused by a combination of genetic factors which are triggered by environmental stimuli. As such, the treatment methods and remedies for eczema are only limited to controlling the signs and symptoms of the disease.
Eczema is not a serious or a life threatening condition and in most cases, the signs and symptoms of the disease can be controlled with the help of simple lifestyle remedies and home treatment options. Managing the conditions can cause the symptoms to disappear in as little as two weeks and can also prevent the chances of any complications occurring with the skin condition. However, if not paid adequate attention, eczema can prove to cause a number of nasty complications and it is also a recurring disease which may manifest itself time and again.
It is important to diagnose the signs and symptoms of eczema at the earliest in order to effectively manage the condition. Management of the disease can be quite simple, given that an individual is committed to fighting the condition and to prevent future outbreaks.
Eczema and in fact any skin disorder can prove to be frustrating, stressful as well as embarrassing for individuals. While it has some obvious common problems associated with it, it may lead to some sever problems such as depression if not handled with care or managed effectively. It is important to seek support groups or to seek professional medical guidance and counseling in case you suspect to have been infected with eczema at the earliest.
How Eczema can be managed?
For a skin disease like eczema, it is very important to take good care of the skin and for that, the patients suffering from eczema need to make some lifestyle changes and need to bring in more of skin care into their daily routine. The patients suffering from severe eczema need to take medications whereas at an early stage, eczema can be managed in the following ways:
- Use of mild soap and moisturizer: To prevent the skin from dryness, the best recommended method for cleaning is to use a mild soap or some form of a substitute which keeps the skin hydrated. Individuals can purchase these mild soaps also known as syndets, at most local drug stores. Also if a patient applies a good quality moisturizer periodically, immediately after bathing or at some other time each day, then the natural moisture of the skin will be conserved, reducing the chances of the skin flaring up. The patients with severe eczema benefit more from bathing if bleach is added to the water in a small amount. The bleach performs its action by killing any bacteria that are infected and been surviving on the surface of the skin.
- Stress reduction: To improve the condition of skin, the patients should also take steps for stress reduction. The patient should get involved himself in regular exercise and should try to remain active. Stress help counseling and group therapies can also help in reducing stress levels.
- Cold bathing: Warm bathing should be avoided as hot water can dry the skin and may produce itching. Baths and showers should never be lengthy either. It is recommended to always have a bath or a shower with cold water and to dry the body gently by lapping with a soft towel.
Prescriptions and medications for treatment of Eczema
Eczema signs and symptoms may vary across individuals depending on the age group, the severity of the disease as also the location of the disease on the surface of the body. As such, there are a number of different treatment and medication options that can prove to be useful in controlling the irritating skin condition. The following medications are commonly prescribed to eczema patients in order to provide relief:
- Anti-inflammatory topical treatment:
- Topical Immunomodulators: This class of drugs helps in the reduction of itching and inflammation of the skin. This treatment is not advisable to children under the age of 2 years. The possible side effects may include a burning sensation on the skin.
- Topical corticosteroid: These drugs are also prescribed for reduction of itching and inflammation. The possible side effects may include thinning of skin if used excessively. Some individuals may also prove to be allergic to corticosteroids and as such, its administration should always be considered with care.
- Antihistamines: Oral antihistamines can help in relieving symptoms by inducing a feeling of drowsiness or sleepiness in individuals. Examples of commonly used antihistamines include Benadryl and Cetirizin. Antihistamines are quite popularly used in order to provide relief from itching during sleep at night.
- Immunosuppressant: immunosuppressant drugs such as azathioprine or methotrexate can also be used for the suppression of immune system in case none of the other forms of medication work out.
- Ultraviolet light therapy: Also known as phototherapy, this therapy is basically used to treat patients with severe eczema. However, it is known that ultra violet light can cause premature aging of the skin as also skin cancer and as such, it is always administered under careful monitoring and is never a treatment procedure to be used for young sufferers and infant sufferers.
Lifestyle and Home Remedies for Eczema
There are some recommended life style measures and home remedies which can help soothe the inflamed skin associated with eczema. These include the following:
- Use of an anti-itching medication or an oral allergy medication which can help prevent scratching and provide relief. Some of these drugs include antihistamines and diphenhydramine drugs which can greatly help even with severe cases of itching. However, a common side effect associated with these drugs is that they induce a feeling of drowsiness in individuals.
- Taking a bath with diluted bleach water can help kill any bacteria or fungus on the surface of the skin. It is recommended not to use bleach water on the head and never to soak the body in bleach water for a period longer in duration than ten minutes. A bleach bath should be had no often than two to three times in a week.
- Calamine lotion or over the counter hydrocortisone creams can be applied to the affected areas in order to provide relief. These medications can also be used with wet dressings and greatly reduce the chances of flare ups of eczema bouts.
- The skin should be moisturized with a strong moisturizing lotion at least two times a day. Moisturizing lotions should also always be applied on the body immediately after taking a bath.
- It is advised to keep the fingernails trimmed and clean as far as possible. While scratching cannot always be avoided, clean fingernails reduce the chances of infection or causing ruptures to the skin tissue. Affected areas can be kept covered in order to prevent scratching.
- Cool and moist compresses or bandages can be applied to sensitive skin areas in order to provide relief. If coupled up alongside some medication such as topical corticosteroids, they can help in reducing the inflammation of the skin as well.
- Bath water should always be cool or lukewarm and never hot. Baking soda or oatmeal in bath water can also help in alleviating symptoms an in providing relief.
- Mild soaps and perfumes without alcohol should be used. Harsher soaps and alcohol containing perfumes can easily irritate the skin tissue.
- The humidity as well as the temperature of the air indoors should always be maintained. As such, it is recommended to use fans and air conditioners in the summer season and also to use a humidifier for the dry and cold winter seasons.
- Clothing should be loose and as gentle on the skin as possible. It is recommended to wear cotton based fabrics and to avoid heavy synthetic garments which may prove to irritate the skin.
- Anxiety and stress levels are greatly detrimental to the immune system functioning and weaken the body considerably. It is important to treat anxiety and stress in order to effectively treat eczema flares.
Most cases of diagnosed eczema do not require the use of any medication and the signs and symptoms of the condition typically disappear by following simple life style measures and home remedies. However, in some cases, the severity of the condition is such that it causes a significant amount of discomfort to individuals and normal treatment methods and remedies prove to be ineffective. In such cases, medications can be used but it is advised to always seek out professional medical counseling or recommendation before resorting to any type of medication. Some of the medications can prove to have side effects and it is important for people to understand the benefits and the ills of using medication. It is also important to realize that the exact reasons behind the development of eczema are largely unknown and that there are no definite cures available for the disorder. As such, it is best if the condition of rashes and inflammation of the skin can be managed without the use of medications. Medications should only be taken under professional medical guidance or recommendation. It is also advised to resort to mild over the counter medications for eczema only in case if normal therapies and treatment procedures prove to be ineffective in controlling the signs and symptoms of the disease and if the skin condition proves to cause a significant amount of discomfort to an individual.
Eczema can be both chronic and acute and the condition of the disease varies from one individual to another. While acute eczema may never return to an individual, chronic eczema is typically more common and manifests itself in the future when exposed to specific triggering factors and allergens. As such, it is advised that any sufferer of eczema must try and find out possible options of triggering factors and allergens and should take utmost care to avoid contact with these. The prognosis of eczema varies greatly from one individual to the other.
Eczema can prove to be an irritating and frustrating condition. However, it is not serious and is not considered to be life threatening in any way. Management of eczema can help alleviate the signs and symptoms of the condition and can help sufferers treat their condition. However, an individual must remain dedicated and motivated to the fight against the disease and must follow recommended practices and home remedies in order to contain the condition. If followed properly, eczema conditions can easily be managed, without having to undergo too many hassles or having to face too much discomfort. Even chronic conditions of eczema manifest themselves in the form of episodes and managing each episode of eczema flare can be done by following a combination of home remedies and medication if required.
In case you suspect that your skin condition may be that of eczema, it is recommended to have the disorder diagnosed as early as possible. An early diagnosis can help in quicker treatment of the signs and symptoms of the disease and can also help in preventing any complications that may be associated with the skin disorder. Another added advantage of seeking professional medical diagnosis is that the professional experts can help in identifying the possible triggering factors and allergens specific to an individual and this in turn prevents the chances of any future outbreaks or episodes of eczema flare bouts.