Q: My eczema can get out of control. How can I manage it?
A: Eczema symptoms include itchy, red, and dry skin caused by inflammation. It’s most commonly found in children, although adults can get it. It is also called atopic dermatitis and is treated with oral medications, steroid creams and light therapy. Eczema can be itchy and painful. But lifestyle chances can help in treating the condition.
- Know your triggers. Eczema can be triggered by many things such as household cleaners, pet dander, grass, gasoline, chemicals, products with soaps, and certain foods. Learn the triggers and avoid them.
- Don’t scratch. It may be tough to resist but scratching can cause more itching and also damage the skin and lead to infection. Control the itching with cold compresses, frequent moisturizing, baths and medication.
- Use eczema medication when needed. If lifestyle changes are not enough, talk to your doctor about using medication to ease symptoms. Medications could range from an over-the-counter cream or oral antihistamine to a prescription. Use as directed by your doctor.
- Wear comfortable fabrics. For those with eczema, cotton and cotton blend clothing are best choices. Also choose a laundry detergent that is mild and unscented and avoid fabric softener.
- Moisturize often. A moisturizer on dry, itchy skin can be a saving grace to keeping eczema under control. Moisturize especially after washing and bathing. Use plain, unscented moisturizer. Thicker creams and ointments usually provide the most protection.
- Manage temperatures at home. Changes in temperature or humidity can often cause an eczema flare up. Use air conditioning in the home to stay cool. During cold weather, use a cool mist humidifier to keep the skin from becoming too dry.
- Manage stress. Stress can cause flare ups. And the itching and discomfort caused by eczema only add to the stress. Learn relaxation techniques such as yoga and medication. Exercise also helps reduce stress.