Eczema symptoms and treatment options available in Franklin TN
Eczema, also called dermatitis, is a common condition characterized by skin irritation and inflammation. It can affect anyone, at any age, though it is most prevalent in infants and younger kids. Franklin, TN families turn to CoolSprings Laser, Aesthetic & Skin Care Center for eczema treatment and counseling.
What is eczema?
In medical language, eczema is an umbrella term that includes several subtypes, including:
- Contact dermatitis – a skin reaction to an allergen or irritant
- Dyshidrotic eczema – an itchy, blistered rash affecting the hands and feet, which is also called hand-and-foot eczema
- Nummular eczema – characterized by oval-shaped lesions, this condition is normally triggered by skin irritation or trauma, such as a serious burn
- Stasis dermatitis – a common symptom of venous insufficiency (vascular disease), this condition can cause skin discoloration, texture changes, and visible veins
- Seborrheic dermatitis – this well-known form of eczema, characterized by irritation and flaking of the scalp, is usually called dandruff
- Atopic dermatitis – this condition, associated with dry, itchy skin, is common in childhood, and may persist through life
Although any of the above condition are technically forms of eczema, all have their own common names. The last one on the list, atopic dermatitis, is the only subtype that is commonly referred to simply as “eczema.” When people, including medical professionals, talk about eczema without specifying what type, you can be almost certain they are referring to atopic dermatitis.
Causes and risk factors
We are all born with delicate, easily irritated skin. However, the problem is much more serious for some. Infants and toddlers commonly have chronic dry, itchy skin with frequent rashes – no matter how carefully they are bathed and cared for. These children most likely have atopic dermatitis. About 40 percent will “outgrow” it, meaning that the condition resolves by the time they are adults. For the remaining 60 percent, it becomes a lifelong battle. The National Eczema Association estimates that thirteen percent of children and over seven percent of adults have atopic dermatitis.
Currently, we do not know the exact cause of eczema, nor do we know why it is becoming more common. However, it is the subject of extensive clinical research, which is helping us understand this condition better every day. We know there is a genetic link, and your risk is much greater if family members have certain allergies, asthma, or eczema. We also know many ways to improve symptoms and reduce flareups.
Because eczema is quite common, chances are you have seen it before. If it runs in your family, you may be very familiar with it. You might think that you already know what affected skin looks like, and what symptoms to watch for. However, eczema can manifest in many different ways, and vary greatly from one person to the next. Even for one person, the symptoms may change over time. In fact, if you have eczema, you may be affected by different subtypes of the condition at different times. Therefore, it is always best to see a medical professional for accurate diagnosis as well as management of eczema.
Signs you may have eczema include:
- Itching, often quite severe
- Dry, flaky skin
- Redness and inflammation
- Dark or otherwise discolored areas of skin
- Leathery, rough skin texture
- Crusting or oozing
- Blisters are common with certain subtypes, such as contact dermatan or dyshidrotic eczema
Eczema treatment options
The symptoms of eczema can be frustratingly persistent. For affected children, there is a good chance of the condition resolving, though it will likely take a few years. Those who still have eczema as adults will likely continue to experience symptoms, at least occasionally. At this time there is no known “cure.” However, it can be effectively controlled with a combination of daily self-care, medical treatment, and trigger avoidance.
Because every patient is different, eczema treatment is highly individualized. After an examination and consultation, we may recommend one or more of the following:
- Healing topicals – Prescription creams with healing ingredients such as corticosteroid or calcineurin inhibitors can soothe the itch and help skin repair itself. However, over-use can have negative effects, so it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions closely.
- Anti-infective medication – Eczema patients may be susceptible to infection due to dry, cracked skin or damage caused by scratching. Topical antibiotic creams, oral antibiotics, or a combination may be needed to clear up active infections.
- Biologics – This new class of injectable eczema medication was recently approved by the FDA. Although early clinical trials are promising, it has not been on the market long enough to establish a long-term record of effectiveness.
- Light therapy – One of the safest and most effective eczema treatments does not use drugs, but rather the power of light. Also known as phototherapy, this procedure uses carefully targeted narrowband UV light to help heal skin and reduce future flares. Although unprotected sun exposure is sometimes promoted as a natural eczema treatment, it can increase skin cancer risk with minimal benefit. For optimal safety and effectiveness, it is important that UV treatment be provided by a qualified medical professional.
It might seem as if your skin nearly heals, then symptoms suddenly and randomly return. However, it usually isn’t random. The skin is our barrier against the outside world; it is also one of the ways our bodies excrete toxins. That means it is exposed to, and sensitive to, internal and external conditions. Eczema flares usually have a cause, which can be anything from the weather to what you ate for dinner.
An important part of our eczema treatment plan is personalized guidance, beginning with helping you identify triggers. After a discussion about your symptoms and lifestyle, we will advise you about likely triggers. We’ll also teach you how to keep a skincare diary, noting when potential triggers occur, and when skin symptoms appear or fade. Over time, patterns emerge.
Some triggers can be avoided, such as certain foods or specific brands of cleaners. Others are unavoidable, but you can prepare and protect skin accordingly. For example, one of the most common problems is winter weather, which, of course, cannot be avoided. However, you can minimize its effects by wearing protective clothing, avoiding too-hot baths, using appropriate moisturizer, and regulating indoor humidity.
Taking control of your skin health
Eczema is a challenge, perhaps a lifelong one. However, you don’t have to face it alone. The team at CoolSprings Laser, Aesthetic & Skin Care Center is here for you every step of the way, with treatment, advice, and compassionate care. Together, we can create a winning plan incorporating home care and professional treatment to achieve the healthy, clear skin that you desire and deserve. Just call our office at (615) 656-4030 and schedule an appointment.
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