Characterized by dry, itchy patches on the skin, atopic dermatitis causes a great deal of discomfort. For many, the dry, scaly patches can become so itchy and inflamed, they can start to bleed and become infected. Thankfully, help is available if you are one of the 30% of people in the United States who suffer from this common form of eczema.
With proper understanding and your dermatologist's assistance, learn the key essentials for managing the uncomfortable nature of atopic dermatitis.
1. Proper Cleansers
Even though your skin is in a state of distress, you still need to clean it. Unfortunately, some patients with eczema believe harsh cleansing and numerous baths are essential for easing their inflammation and pain. In reality, certain cleansers and washing too much can actually do more harm than good.
Experts recommend avoiding bar soap because this can dry out the skin. Avoid any type of cleanser or bodywash that contains fragrance, since chemical compounds in these products will irritate your already stressed and inflamed skin.
For the best results, use a liquid, fragrance-free bodywash that contains emollients. This will allow you to wash and moisturize your skin without any worry of further irritation.
Focus on the cloth or sponge you wash with and the water temperature as well.
Use a soft cloth or soft sponge while washing to avoid irritation. Avoid rubbing the skin with the cloth or cleanser. Use gentle massaging motions while washing the skin's surface.
Finally, bathe in warm water only. Hot water will irritate the skin, making your atopic dermatitis even more uncomfortable.
Moisturizer is one of the most important parts of managing your eczema symptoms.
A high-quality and appropriate amount of moisturizer creates a protective coating, preventing irritants and allergens from harming the skin's surface. Of course, moisturizer also keeps the skin moist, reducing the risk of the dry, scaly, and itchy patches you get with eczema.
Apply your moisturizer after bathing, but make sure you dry the skin first. Use a soft towel that is capable of absorbing the water without having to rub the skin. If possible, apply the moisturizer to your skin within a few minutes after bathing and drying off. Use a moisturizer that is free of any dyes and fragrances. You will also need to reapply the moisturizer to your skin throughout the day.
From different ointments that contain oils for added moisture to various creams and lotions, many types of moisturizers benefit your skin. Since your skin is different from others, you may need to try a few moisturizers before you find one that helps your skin feel and look its best.
Itchiness is one of the worst symptoms of eczema. Not only is the feeling that you need to scratch the skin distressing, but the actual scratching can cause further complications.
If you scratch the itchy scales, this will cause more inflammation and pain. Over time, scratching will make dirt and bacteria build up on the itchy patches, increasing the risk of dangerous infections.
Dermatologists will most likely prescribe you a series of medications to ease the symptoms, decreasing the itchiness to stop you from scratching the skin.
Cortisone creams and sprays are helpful since they ease the inflammation and reduce the itchy sensation. However, use them sparingly because of potential side effects.
Antihistamines are also essential medications to help ease the itchiness, reducing your need to scratch the damaged skin. Antihistamines are available over the counter or by prescription.
Atopic dermatitis is not a life-threatening condition, but it can affect how you look and feel. For more information about managing or treating your eczema, contact John M. Humeniuk, M.D., today.