Eczema typically develops in early childhood and in a small number of cases spontaneously resolves on its own. For everyone else, eczema is usually a lifelong skin condition. While scientists have yet to find a cure, there are treatments and ways to manage your eczema to minimize flare-ups.
Everyone with eczema should have an eczema specialist as part of their care team. Allergy and immunology specialist Reinhard Kage, MD, and the team at Rheumatology and Allergy Institute of Connecticut specialize in diagnosing and treating immunologic conditions such as eczema.
What is eczema?
Eczema causes inflamed patches of skin to develop that itch intensely. The affected skin is often dark and typically thickens and appears scaly. It may also blister and ooze. The outer layer of skin (epidermis) is damaged, and as a result is sensitive and vulnerable to various triggers.
People with eczema tend to have flare-ups that may last several weeks. Symptoms tend to subside between flares.
Understanding your skin
Your outer layer of skin serves several important purposes. It acts as a barrier, providing protection against the external environment, produces melanin, and retains water and nutrients. Special immune cells in the epidermis called langerhans cells guard against forein substances, such as bacteria.
In people with eczema, these primary functions of the epidermis are impaired. Because the epidermis doesn’t function as well as it should, it has trouble retaining moisture and protecting against environmental elements like heat, cold temperatures, and foreign substances.
If you have eczema, your skin is delicate and requires some extra care.
Learning about your skin and ways to manage your eczema can help you to keep your skin as healthy as possible. The following are best practices for managing eczema.
Identify and avoid triggers
Identifying and avoiding your triggers plays an important role in managing eczema. Common eczema triggers include:
- Hot or cold temperatures
- Ingredients in skin care products
- Certain clothing fibers
Your specific triggers may not be listed here. Recording your symptoms in a daily journal can help you pinpoint potential triggers to help you avoid or minimize flare-ups.
Keep your skin hydrated
Due to reduced barrier function, eczema causes water loss and makes it difficult for your skin to remain hydrated. While you shouldn’t over-moisturize your skin, it’s important to keep your skin hydrated. Moisturizing your skin should be a part of your daily regimen. It plays a key role in keeping your skin healthy and preventing flare-ups.
Maintenance therapy to prevent flares
Your provider can recommend maintenance therapy to prevent flare-ups as best as possible. Your regimen may include medications such as:
- Topical corticosteroids
Treatment plans are individualized to address your skin’s specific needs.
When flare-ups do happen, acting promptly helps keep them under control and prevents exacerbations. High-potency topical corticosteroids are often used for this purpose.
Eczema makes you vulnerable to skin infections, especially Staphylococcus aureus infections. Dr. Kage is on the lookout for potential complications during your visit. If he detects a problem, he may prescribe a short course of oral antibiotics. If you notice an issue, be sure to schedule an appointment promptly.
Living well with eczema
While eczema won’t go away on its own, with some know-how and the appropriate care, it’s possible to live well with eczema. Having an eczema specialist on your side is invaluable. To learn more about managing eczema and to schedule a visit with Dr. Kage, call 860-288-1160 or send your appointment request online using our booking form.