National Eczema Month: Unveiling the Truths and Treatments of a Common Skin ConditionOct 19, 2023
October heralds many things: the burst of fall foliage, the anticipation of Halloween, and the subtle shift from summer warmth to autumnal coziness. For those in the dermatological community and many across the globe, it also marks National Eczema Month. At Center for Dermatology, we believe it’s imperative to shed light on this common, yet often misunderstood skin condition.
What is Eczema?
Eczema is a chronic skin condition characterized by itchy, inflamed skin. It may appear as red, scaly patches, which can sometimes ooze or crust. While eczema is most common in children, it can strike at any age, with many adults either continuing to experience it from childhood or developing it later in life.
While the hallmark of eczema is itchy skin, not every itch means eczema. Here’s how to differentiate:
- Location: Eczema frequently appears on the hands, feet, ankles, wrists, neck, upper chest, eyelids, inside the bend of the elbows and knees, and in infants, on the face and scalp.
- Appearance: Red to brownish-gray patches, small raised bumps, which may ooze liquid when scratched, and thickened, cracked, or scaly skin are indicative.
- Itch Intensity: The itch from eczema can be severe, often intensifying at night.
If you observe these symptoms, especially if they persist or recur, we recommend scheduling an appointment with one of our dermatologists to diagnose and discuss treatment options.
Eczema is Normal
While the word ‘normal’ might seem antithetical when discussing a skin condition, the prevalence of eczema cannot be understated. It affects approximately 1 in 10 individuals at some point in their lives. Genetics play a role—those with a family history of eczema, allergies, or asthma are more prone.
It’s essential to understand that having eczema doesn’t mean one is unclean or has done something wrong. It’s a physiological response, much like an allergic reaction. Moreover, the societal stigma needs to be dismantled. People with eczema deserve empathy and understanding, not unwarranted advice or judgment.
While there’s no ‘cure’ for eczema, there are a plethora of treatments to manage symptoms:
- Topical Steroids: Corticosteroid creams or ointments reduce inflammation and are often the first line of defense.
- Moisturizers: Keeping the skin hydrated is pivotal. It’s best to apply a thick moisturizer right after bathing.
- Over-the-counter treatments: Some people find relief with OTC products designed specifically for eczema.
- Light Therapy: Controlled ultraviolet B light can be beneficial for some patients.
- Systemic Medications: For severe cases, drugs that modulate the immune system or address inflammation can be prescribed.
- Lifestyle: Stress, allergens, and irritants can exacerbate eczema. It’s vital to identify and mitigate these triggers.
Eczema is as multifaceted as the people it affects. This National Eczema Month, let’s foster awareness, extend compassion, and continue our journey toward holistic, patient-centric care. Remember, with the right care and knowledge, eczema can be managed.