McKinney area dermatologist discusses the possible causes of eczema

ItchingSufferers from eczema will tell you that the condition can be uncomfortable, inconvenient, and downright itchy. Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, affects many Americans, and although most common in children, it can occur in adults as well. It is due to an overactive immune system to irritants, but the official cause is in reality not fully understood.

For many patients, the most troubling thing about eczema is that there is the lack of underlying cause. In most instances, the condition is managed by identifying common triggers. Before discussing these triggers, it is important for people to understand the most common symptoms of eczema.

  • Dry, itchy, rough skin
  • Inflamed areas of skin
  • Tiny red bumps
  • Scaly skin

Eczema can appear almost anywhere on the body, but the most common locations are the head, back of the knees, elbows, or arms.

Common triggers for eczema flare-ups:

  • Exposure to chemicals in fragrances, soaps, or laundry detergent
  • Pet dander
  • Clothing (synthetic fabrics)
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Humidity
  • Stress
  • Food Allergies
  • Mold
  • Pregnancy
  • Hormonal changes
  • Pollen

Eczema tends to run in families, so if you have the condition, your children are at an increased risk for having symptoms. It is more common in children with seasonal allergies and can appear in children with food allergies.

Diagnosing eczema is a multi-step process that includes a medical history, physical examination, and in some cases a patch test to determine triggering allergens.

Once the triggers are identified, avoidance becomes an integral part of the treatment plan. Patients can also try to make small changes such as wearing cotton clothing, avoid perfumes and cosmetics with harsh chemicals, limit exposure to extreme temperatures, and reduce habit scratching. Keeping the skin hydrated with proper moisturizers can also minimize flare-ups.

Other treatments for eczema include:

  • Antihistamines to control itch
  • Corticosteroids for acute flares in order to quickly bring the condition under control
  • Topical non-steroids for areas like the face, groin, armpit and to body areas that need maintenance control
  • Antibiotics either topically or systemically for areas of infection

In some cases, pills are needed to control eczema that affects a large body surface area. We are experienced with the use of these medications and find that education of patients and their families is essential to a great outcome. Our center is also a leader in phototherapy for eczema, in which safe forms of light are used to treat multiple body areas affected by eczema, allowing for quick, effective treatments with minimal to no down-time. Phototherapy is a very safe treatment for eczema as no oral medications are used.

It is important to seek treatment for eczema because patients with eczema are often at an increased risk of infection due to excessive scratching. It is important to notify your doctor of any raised areas filled with pus, sores, or blisters. By visiting a dermatologist, patients can come up with a plan to manage their eczema that can reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. If you are in the McKinney area and are ready to reduce suffering from eczema, call us today.

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