According to the National Eczema Association, more than 31 million Americans have eczema, and nearly half of them report feeling frustrated with the condition. Eczema is a group of skin conditions that can cause your skin to become itchy, red, inflamed, dry, and scaly.
If you live with eczema, you may be engaged in an ongoing struggle that affects your quality of life. Expert dermatologists Vicki Rapaport, MD, and Marvin Rapaport, MD, help you get your eczema under control at Rapaport Dermatology in Beverly Hills and Culver City, California.
Read on to learn how to make lifestyle changes that reduce eczema flares.
Which type of eczema do you have?
The most common form of eczema is atopic (allergic) dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis (AD) might start as early as infancy and causes the skin to become dry, red and, above all, intensely itchy.
If you have AD, the affected patches of skin typically feel leathery and rough. They can also ooze or get crusty, mostly due to superinfection with bacteria. The backs of the knees, inner elbows, and hands are most commonly affected. In babies, the face and trunk are mostly involved.
One other common form of eczema is called contact dermatitis (CD). If you have CD, the cells under the skin react to products that you expose the skin to, such as irritating soaps or chemicals, or pet dander, causing various skin rashes.
While the exact cause of AD or CD is often unknown, patients with eczema appear to have an overactive immune system that reacts to certain triggers by producing inflammation.
Our doctors work with you to identify your triggers, so you can control your symptoms and live comfortably without eczema flares.
What lifestyle changes should you make?
The uncomfortable and visible symptoms of eczema can impact your mood and overall sense of well-being. The good news is that reducing skin irritation is the key to managing eczema.
Keep the temperature consistent
Abrupt or extreme changes in weather or indoor temperature can cause eczema flare-ups. Maintain a consistent temperature by avoiding air that’s too hot, too dry, too cold, or too humid. Keep your skin hydrated in the summer and limit your exposure to cold weather in the winter.
Avoid irritating substances
Your eczema may flare if you expose your skin to irritating chemicals or other substances. Common irritants that can cause eczema flare-ups include:
- Products that contain fragrances
- Wool or synthetic fabrics
- Cigarette smoke
- Household cleaners
- Pet dander
What irritates one person with eczema may not irritate someone else. Keep a symptom journal to identify your own personal triggers.
Avoid long baths and showers
If you have eczema, you probably have a weak protective barrier on the top layer of your skin. This can cause moisture to escape and allow bacteria — such as staphylococcus — to penetrate the affected skin. Bacterial toxins cause further eczema flares.
To minimize irritation and keep your skin as strong as possible, don’t soak your skin for long periods of time. Try taking quick showers and limiting your baths to 10-15 minutes.
Care for your skin
A cornerstone of managing eczema is consistently taking care of your skin with gentle, fragrance-free, medical-grade skincare products.
A good skincare regimen may include using fragrance-free moisturizing creams under barrier-creating ointments as well as wearing sunscreen to help keep your skin healthy and safe.
To learn more about treating eczema, call the Rapaport Dermatology location most convenient for you, or book your appointment online.