Since moving to our new house, my husband’s eczema is getting worst. Usually I do not pay too much attention to my husband’s skin condition, other than to remind him to apply his prescribed skin cream occasionally. But like most men, unless he is dying, I cannot get my husband to take his skin condition seriously.
This post is a discussion of some adult eczema treatment tips to help manage this skin condition. Being the shopper for household products, I hope to indirectly improve my husband’s eczema by changing some household products that are known to cause skin irritation.
What are the symptoms of Eczema?
My husband has a form of eczema also known as atopic dermatitis. Symptoms vary from person to person, but the most common symptom are dry and itchy skin. There are often cracks behind the ears and rashes on the cheeks, arms, and legs. Scratching and rubbing make the symptoms worst.
95% of patients develop eczema before the age of five. This disease may go into remission for months or even years at a time. It is rare for adults to suddenly develop eczema.
Common causes of eczema flare-ups?
Like the symptoms of eczema, causes of eczema flare-ups also vary from person to person. But the most causes are:
- skin infections
- wool or synthetic fibers in clothing or sheets
- some perfumes and cosmetics
- dust or sand
- substances such as chlorine, mineral oil, or solvents
- cigarette smoke
- dust mites
- animal dander
- foods (eggs, peanuts, milk, fish, soy, or wheat)
- temperature (hot baths/showers, sweating, becoming chilled)
- climate (low humidity)
Practice proper skin care to prevent eczema flare-ups
The main goals of adult eczema skin treatment include:
- keeping the skin healthy
- treating skin flare-ups as they occur
Preventing eczema flare-ups by keeping the skin healthy
- Avoid long or hot baths and showers (limit to 15 minutes).
- Use a mild bar soap or non soap cleanser such as Dove, Basis, Johnson & Johnson baby wash, or Oil of Olay.
- Avoid personal hygiene products that contain alcohol.
- Keep fingernails short and clean to prevent spreading the bacteria. Apply a cold compress to the irritated area to reduce inflammation.
- Bath oils are usually not helpful.
- Consider wearing moisture wicking or loose-fitting cotton clothing. Sweat and synthetic fabrics often irritate the skin and trigger eczema flare-ups.
- Double rinse your clothes to fully get rid of laundry detergents. Use a fragrance free and neutral pH detergent.
Treating eczema flare-ups as they occur
Learn to recognize the initial signs of eczema skin infections. Initial signs may include tiny pustules (pus-filled bumps) on arms and legs, crusty yellow blisters, and oozing areas. If symptoms of a skin infection develop, consult with your doctor and begin treatment as soon as possible. Treatments that your doctor could prescribe include:
- topical corticosteroids creams
Steroid creams and ointments are the most common prescribed medication for eczema. Over the counter corticosteroids creams are not as strong as the prescribed steroid creams and ointments (which is true in every medication). The frequency and strength of the medication depends on the severity of symptoms, areas to be treated, and the patient’s age.
Side effects from long term use include thinning and stretch marks on the skin.
- systemic corticosteroids
When topical corticosteroids creams are ineffective, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids taken orally or injected into the muscle. Typically these systemic corticosteroids are used only in severe cases and given for a short time.
Side effects include skin damage, thinned or weakened bones, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, infections, and cataracts. It is dangerous to suddenly stop taking steroids, so it is important to work closely with your doctor while taking these medications.
Another treatment include ultraviolet A or B light (or both together) for mild to moderate eczema. Sometimes when eczema do not respond to light therapy alone, then a combination of ultraviolet light therapy and a drug called psoralen (also known as photochemotherapy) may be helpful.
Side effects from long term use include premature aging of the skin and skin cancer.
- immunosuppressive drugs
Severe cases of skin eczema that failed to respond to other forms of medication, immunosuppressive drugs such as cyclosporine may be used.
Side effects from long term use of cyclosporine include high blood pressure, vomiting, nausea, headaches, kidney problems, tingling or numbness, and a possible increase in cancer risk.
Antibiotics and antihistamines may also be used to treat eczema skin infections. Though medication is useful, trying to eliminate the skin irritant in the first place might be worth trying beforehand. In the meantime, I will be doing more research about using soap flakes as an alternative to laundry detergent and switching my husband over to Johnson & Johnson baby wash.
Until next time and thanks for stopping by Small Steps to Health.
Photo by: Per Ola Wiberg.
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