Rashes/Eczema Treatment – The Woodlands Dermatologist Anthony J. Perri, M.D.
According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, the prevalence of atopic eczema is increasing and affects 10 to 20% of children and 1 to 3% of adults. While many infants who develop the condition outgrow it by their second birthday, some people continue to experience symptoms on and off throughout life. More common skin rashes can often be mistaken for eczema and vice-versa, but thankfully for patients in Conroe and The Woodlands, eczema and rashes are both able to be managed with proper treatment.
What is Eczema?
Eczema is the term for a group of medical conditions that cause the skin to become inflamed or irritated. The most common type of eczema is known as atopic dermatitis, or atopic eczema, and is characterized by the formation of intensely itchy patches on the skin. These patches can be widespread or limited to a few areas. Scratching often leads to redness, swelling, cracking, “weeping” of clear fluid, crusting, and scaling of the skin. Constant scratching can cause skin damage, infection, and even sleep loss.
Atopic eczema is chronic (long-lasting) in nature, often exhibiting periodic flare-ups then subsiding for a time. Often accompanied by asthma and hay fever, it is most commonly found in children, though it can occur at any age. Though no cure has been found for this disease, with Dr. Perri’s help, patients suffering from eczema in The Woodlands and Conroe can effectively control their symptoms and find relief.
Causes and Risk Factors for Eczema
The Woodlands and Conroe patients often ask about the causes of eczema in hopes of lessening their risk. While the exact cause of eczema is unknown, it’s thought to be linked to an overactive response by the body’s immune system. Some of the factors thought to play a role in the onset of eczema include:
- Dry, irritable skin that can reduce the skin’s ability to be an effective barrier, increasing risk.
- Gene variation that affects the skin’s barrier function and/or dysfunction of the immune system.
- Bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, on the skin can create a film that can block sweat glands.
- Several studies suggest that certain food sensitivities are associated with infantile and childhood atopic dermatitis. Common foods that can cause problems include milk products, nuts, and shellfish.
- Environmental factors such as the use of lotions and wearing jewelry or certain fabrics, can cause irritation that leads to eczema. Living in urban areas or working in the health care industry can also increase risk.
- Eczema is commonly found in families with a history of other allergies or asthma. An increased frequency has also been seen in African Americans.
- Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is believed to have links with eczema.
- Stress may cause symptoms to worsen.
How Does Eczema Differ from Rashes?
For patients in Conroe and The Woodlands, eczema and rashes can be the cause of some confusion. To the untrained eye, many skin conditions can appear and feel similar. In fact, there is even a type of rash, seborrheic dermatitis, which is very close to eczema in appearance and can even occur at the same time as eczema. Some clues to which specific condition is affecting you lie in the way the condition presents. Common symptoms for eczema include:
- Itching, particularly at night, which may be severe in nature.
- Red to brownish-gray patches, especially inside the bend of the elbows and knees, on the hands, wrists, feet, ankles, upper chest, neck, eyelids, and, with infants, on the face and scalp.
- Small, raised bumps, which may crust over or leak fluid when scratched.
- Thickened, cracked, dry, scaly skin, or skin that is raw, sensitive, and swollen from scratching.
There are many varieties of rashes that can present in different ways, but to use the example of seborrheic dermatitis again, it usually appears as flaky, white or yellowish scales that form on oily parts of the body like the inside of the external ear, the scalp, on the eyebrows, eyelids, lips, creases of the nose, or along the folds of skin near your body’s middle. If you’re uncertain, the best course is to schedule an appointment with Dr. Perri. With his experience and knowledge of skin conditions, he can assist you in identifying and properly treating yours.
Treatment for Eczema
The first step in seeking treatment is ensuring what you are dealing with is actually eczema, as many other conditions have similar symptoms. Without an accurate diagnosis, attempts at treatment may be unsuccessful.
The goal of treatment is to relieve and prevent itching, which can lead to infection. Since the disease makes skin dry and itchy, lotions and creams are recommended, provided they are not a known cause of irritation for you. These topical medications are usually applied when the skin is damp, such as after bathing, to help the skin retain moisture. Other treatment methods include:
- Cold compresses to help relieve itching.
- Non-prescription products like hydrocortisone, or prescription creams and ointments containing stronger corticosteroids to reduce inflammation.
- If the area becomes infected, prescription antibiotics may be used to treat the infection.
- Antihistamines may be employed to reduce severe itching.
- Phototherapy (therapy using ultraviolet light applied to the skin) is also sometimes used to treat eczema.
If you believe you have eczema or are unsure, schedule an appointment with Dr. Perri today. He can determine your condition and provide treatment quickly and easily. Perri Dermatology has two convenient locations – in Conroe and The Woodlands – and we offer flexible weekday hours to help accommodate your busy schedule.
Confused about rashes and eczema? Conroe and The Woodlands dermatologist Dr. Anthony J. Perri can quickly identify and treat your skin conditions. Call today for your appointment: The Woodlands – 281.943.2749 Conroe – 936.522.4966