Summer is right around the corner and people suffering from eczema may realize that this results in an increase in their symptoms. Since temperatures are about to get much higher, we thought it would be a good time to give families some facts about eczema and advice on how to manage the condition.
Eczema is a skin problem that can occur in infants, children, and adults. It often happens in people who have allergies and tends to run in families.
What are the symptoms of eczema?
The symptoms of eczema can include:
Skin that flakes off or forms scales
Most people with eczema have their first symptoms before they turn five. But eczema can look different in people of different ages:
In babies, eczema tends to affect the front of the arms and legs, cheeks, or scalp. (The diaper area is not usually affected.)
In older children and adults, eczema often affects the sides of the neck, the elbow creases, and the backs of the knees. Adults can also get it on their face, wrists, hands, and forearms.
With time scarring, darkening, and thickening of the skin can occur due to excessive scratching.
What can cause eczema symptoms to worsen?
Being too hot or sweating too much
Being in very dry air
Stress or worry
Sudden temperature changes
Soaps, detergents, cleaning products (disinfectants, dish-washing soap)
Wool or synthetic fabrics (like polyester)
How is eczema treated? — There are treatments that can relieve the symptoms of eczema, but the condition cannot be cured. Even so, about half of children with eczema grow out of it by the time they become adults. The treatments for eczema include:
Moisturizing creams or ointments – These products help keep your skin moist.
Steroid creams and ointments – These medications help relieve unfavorable symptoms, such as itching and redness. Topical steroids are safe as long as they are used according to the advice of your physician.
Medicines that change the way the immune system works – These medicines are only for people who do not improve with the previously mentioned treatment options. They require a prescription from a physician.
Antihistamine pills – Antihistamines are the medicines people often take for allergies. Some people with eczema find that antihistamines relieve itching. Others do not think the medicines do any good. Many people with eczema find that itching is worst at night. That can make it hard to sleep. If you have this problem, talk to your doctor about it since they may recommend an antihistamine that can also help with sleep.
Light therapy – During light therapy, your skin is exposed to a special kind of light called ultraviolet light. The therapy has been successful in 60-70% of patients, however experts worry that it may increase the risk of skin cancer over time. Doctors usually recommend it for people who do not get better with other treatments.