Eczema & Dermatitis
Eczema, also called “dermatitis,” refers to several different rash-like conditions where the skin is inflamed, red and irritated. The most severe and long-lasting type of eczema is atopic dermatitis. During a flare-up, the skin becomes extremely red, itchy and scaly. This skin condition can be widespread, or confined to only a few areas on the body.
Eczema is not contagious, although if you have a family history of eczema, your risk for the disease increases. Generally, atopic dermatitis affects infants or young children and may last until the child reaches adulthood.
The appearance and symptoms for atopic dermatitis will vary for each case. Intense itching is the most common sign of eczema, which can lead to severe discomfort and even loss of sleep. Other common symptoms of eczema include:
» Dry, red and extremely itchy patches of skin
» Cracked, inflamed and scaly skin
» Small bumps or blisters that ooze and weep
» In infants, the rash generally appears on the cheeks and around the mouth
Eczema outbreaks are caused by an overreaction of your skin’s immune system to environmental and emotional triggers, such as temperature, chemicals, dust, mold or stress. While there is currently no cure, eczema sufferers can practice self-care at home to help reduce flare-ups.
Lifestyle adjustments are the best line of defense in controlling all types of eczema. Goals of treatment include reducing inflammation, decreasing risk of infection and alleviating the itch. Want to learn more about how to minimize eczema outbreaks? Learn more below!
To minimize symptoms and outbreaks:
» Moisturize every day to prevent dryness and cracking.
» Limit contact with irritants, such as soaps, clothing, jewelry, foods and detergents.
» Avoid sudden changes in temperatures as overheating and sweating are common triggers of flare-ups.
» Reduce stress and anxiety.
» Minimize exposure to mold, pollens and animal dander.
» Opt for cotton, loose-fitting clothes and avoid wool and other rough materials.
Topical steroids are the most common treatment for eczema flares. This is when eczema becomes red, sore and very itchy. Topical steroids are used in short treatment bursts and should be used in conjunction with emollients. Emollients for washing, cleansing and moisturizing are essential to a good skin care routine for treating and preventing dry and itchy skin. Emollients need to be used all the time.
Bleach Bath Protocol for staph colonization of the skin
» 1/4 cup household bleach in 1/2 tub-full of water
» Soak for 15 minutes
» Repeat once within the week
» If itching returns, you may restart the protocol
First-generation antihistamines like Benadryl or Hydroxizine can be helpful with controlling the itch associated with eczema or dermatitis, however, they will cause dizziness and/or drowsiness. This is especially worrisome if operating machinery or presenting a lecture at work. They are best used at night to relieve nighttime itching. They should not be mixed with other sedatives or muscle relaxers; and should be avoided if you suffer from high blood pressure, kidney or thyroid disease, or have difficulty breathing due to asthma or chronic bronchitis.
Second-generation oral antihistamines (such as Claritin) generally appear as a 24-hour non-drowsy single dose and while less effective for immediate relief, may be helpful in preventing outbreaks in those with seasonal allergies.