After randomly applying most of my life to apply the lotion (or oil), I discovered a strange, itchy, scaly skin on the right side of my shin. & # 39; Must be & # 39; an allergic reaction, & # 39; I say to myself as I scrub it off since I am do test a gazillion things. But after a few weeks when the constant itching and irritation didn't allow, I went to my dermatologist. I soon discovered that I was suffering from eczema, first in my life.
Apparently, I'm not alone either – over three million people suffer from inflammation and & # 39; red skin due to a number of factors including weather, stress & genetics. If you have rash-like symptoms that occur on your arms, behind your knees or on the skin areas that are exposed to various environmental factors, you may have eczema (also known as dermatitis).
Those who suffer from the general skin condition know that it takes a little trial and error to find soothing, moisturizing products that soothe current (and future) flames. To help speed up your journey, I spoke with three top bowels to break down everything you ever wanted to know about eczema, including what they recommend you use. Seriously, don't let the winter dry, I'm here to help!
What is eczema?
Eczema is a common, non-infected, dry skin condition that can lead to dry, scaly skin with a little redness and itching, although in worse cases the skin may crack, bleed and / or crust . "It's a chronic inflammatory skin condition that includes a disruption of the skin barrier and an imbalance of skin microbiome including the over-proliferation of the staphylococcus bacteria," Dr. Marnie Nussbaum, NYC-based board certified dermatologist, at.
What are the different types of eczema?
There are various types of dermatitis, including atopic eczema, allergic contact dermatitis, irritating contact dermatitis, and asiatic (due to very dry skin) eczema. When most people talk about eczema, they usually refer to atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema. Atopic dermatitis is common and tends to occur in families with asthma, hay fever, sinus problems and dry skin.
What causes eczema?
Unfortunately, a combination of things ranging from allergens (dust mites, pets, pollen, mold and dandruff), certain foods (dairy products, soy, eggs, nuts and seeds, as well as wheat), certain substances (especially wool and polyester)) and stress levels can increase the flare-up.
"We still don't know exactly what causes eczema, but researchers believe it is caused by a combination of genetics and environmental triggers," adds Mustela's consulting dermatologist, Dr. Latanya Benjamin, at.
Another important factor is that eczema is generally a hereditary condition. "Eczema is 40-50% more likely to occur in children if one parent has a history of the condition," Benjamin explains. "It takes up to 50-80% if both parents suffer from eczema."
Does eczema get worse in different seasons?
According to the board-certified dermatologist, dr. Sheel Desai Solomon of Preston Dermatology, often goes cold weather and dry air. & # 39; Too much dry air can wet your skin from natural moisture. Drought often leads to itching, which then leads to scratching and inflammation, ”she explains.
On the other hand, warm weather can also irritating eczema. “Heavy sweating can lead to itchy skin and prolonged exposure to water is another eczema trigger. Water can cause dry skin, which can cause persistent itching, ”adds Dr. Solomon town.
How can I reduce scars from eczema?
The best way to prevent eczema scars is to effectively prevent and manage itching. & # 39; If the itching is out of control, patients do the most damage. Keeping the skin moisturized and nails trimmed and smooth, there is a long way to reduce the risk of eczema scars, "warns Benjamin.
Nussbaum states that scars usually result from post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) or the remaining redness of inflammation that can hyper- or hypofigment. "The most important thing is to maintain a healthy skin barrier twice daily using a mild detergent and moisturizer without any harsh ingredients," she shares.
Other key ingredients, including vitamin C, niacinamide and aloe vera, can help with skin tone, minimize inflammation and increase collagen production. "Oatmeal baths for 30 minutes a day can also help remove dead skin cells, calm inflammation and restore hydration while reducing scarring," shares Nussbaum. "But if the scars are severe, we (dermatologists) can certainly use laser surfaces or other types of lasers to reduce redness and hyper-pigmentation."
Does an exclusive eczema option exist?
Yes, but remember, there is no "cure" for eczema, but there are treatments, and more is coming. "Depending on the type of eczema and its severity, treatments including lifestyle changes, non-prescription drugs (OTC), prescription drugs, oral and injectable medications, phototherapy and biological agents may help with symptoms." Explain Solomon.
However, it helps to start with soothing moisturizers, especially those containing ceramides, which are naturally present in the skin (fats) in the skin, which help maintain the normal skin barrier function. More on this below.
What recommendations do you have for creams without a counter?
In general, one of the best things you can do for eczema is a wonderful moisturizer. Lotion can become a bit dry as it has a higher water content, so Dr. David Lortscher recommends choosing a heavier cream with ceramide or petrolatum.
If your skin is particularly dry, or you are exposed to very cold, dry air, you should start using a thin layer of heavier moisturizer in the morning to protect your skin. Hydrating is the key to improving skin barrier function, resolving symptoms much faster and relapsing the body throughout treatment.
Here are the best editor and dermatologist-approved moisturizers to fight eczema:
When should you seek medical help?
If your skin does not respond to the counter treatments, there are prescriptions that your dermatologist may prescribe. Higher prescription topical steroids are available for short-term use. Protopic (tacrolimus) 0.03% and 0.1% ointment and Elidel (pimecrolimus) 1% cream are calcineurin inhibitors, which means they are topical medicines that help the immune system reduce inflammation and irritation. Dr. Lortscher typically uses Protopic ointment and Elidel cream to wean patients off topical steroids.
Recently, the FDA approved new treatment options, including Eucrisa (crisaborole) and Dupixent (dupilumab).
- Eucrisa is a topical, non-steroidal treatment. Eucrisa works differently than Protopic and Elidel, and is aimed at an enzyme called phosphodiesterase that helps the body cope with inflammation.
- Dupixent is an injection for individuals with an eczema that is resistant to topical treatments or who do not have access to topical treatment. Dupixent works by blocking factors through which white blood cells can communicate inflammation.
Should I use different products for different areas?
Absolutely! Depending on where the eczema is located, Nussbaum should be treated differently. "For example, eyelids and sensitive skin areas such as forearms, fingers and lips are treated with & # 39; a corticosteroid with a lighter strength than a thicker skin such as the back or legs," she explains.
& # 39; The scalp may experience some different conditions that may resemble eczema, but it may be a form of seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis or fungal infection. So always consult a dermatologist to diagnose the condition. Depending on the condition, there are various shampoos, gels and creams that contain ingredients such as coal tar, salicylic acid, corticosteroid or selenium sulfide, can also effectively treat the scalp. "
Finally, a special note about scrubbing:
Although scab is an apparent solution to removing dead skin, don't use scrubs on the skin with active eczema. & # 39; A scrub by definition (i.e., exfoliation by mechanical abrasion) is likely to be really irritating to the skin affected by eczema. However, if the grains are soft (almost sticky), and if the base of the product is heavier and more oily, water can be trapped in the skin (which is good!), And the hydration can soothe the eczema.