Eczema is a very common condition. It can occur from infancy through old age. Nearly 40% of children with eczema will clear by adulthood.
Textbook lesions are red, scaly and crusted—sometimes with scratch marks. Diaper area is usually clear. Places that the body bends are usually the worst: the crease of the elbows and behind the knees. No blood tests are needed to confirm it.
Treatment is aimed at eliminating triggers, restoring the skin’s normal barrier and hydrating the skin. Sound easy?
- Avoid excessive bathing
- Avoid dry humidity areas (not difficult here in humid Wichita),
- Avoid overheating of skin and exposure to solvents/detergents.
With an eczema flare, the skin’s barrier is decreased and is at risk for skin infections like staph and herpes (ick!) .
- Antihistamines, like Benadryl, are used to control itching and to sedate.
- Thick creams like Vaseline or Cetaphil help the skin not lose water content. These are best applied immediately after bathing.
- Wet dressings help soothe the skin, reduce itching and redness.
- Prescription creams. Steroid are the mainstay of therapy. If this fails, there is another type of cream that is FDA approved above age 2 (calcineurin inhibitors). However, concerns have been raised by the FDA about a possible link to cancers.
- UV light therapy has also been shown to help.
- Probiotic therapy, oral essential fatty-acid supplementation and Chinese herbal medicines have been used, but have not been adequately studied or found to be helpful.
In short, bathe less and lube up more.