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Eczema Symptoms and Management

By Cara Essling, PA-C

Cold temperatures can take a toll on the skin of many individuals and can trigger countless flare-ups of one of the most common skin conditions – eczema.

What exactly is eczema?

Eczema is a chronic, recurring skin disorder characterized by dry, inflamed, and itchy skin. Unfortunately, there is no cure for eczema; however, there are many ways to control the disease by practicing good daily skin care.

What are some of the best ways to control eczema symptoms?

One of the most important parts of caring for eczema-prone skin is regular use of a moisturizer. Fragrance-free moisturizers such as CeraVe, Cetaphil, Aveeno, Eucerin, Vanicream, or Aquaphor (all available over-the-counter) are great options. Creams are more effective than lotions. Moisturizer should be applied to the skin on a daily basis, especially immediately after bathing. Choosing a gentle soap is just as important as choosing an effective moisturizer. We recommend cleansers such as Dove, CeraVe, Cetaphil, or Aveeno. Take care to use warm, rather than hot, water when bathing. When finished, gently pat the skin dry and apply moisturizer while the skin is still damp.

What are some other steps that can be taken to manage eczema?

One important tip is to avoid scratching or rubbing the skin. Keeping the fingernails short can help prevent damage due to scratching. Antihistamines, such as Benadryl, may reduce itching to a certain degree. Cool gel packs can also provide some itch relief. Wearing garments that allow air to pass freely to the skin can be helpful as well. Loose-fitting, cotton clothing is a good option. Try to avoid materials that can be irritating to the skin, such as wool. When outdoors, be sure to wear sunscreen and avoid sunburns. Find a sunscreen that is not irritating to the skin, such as a zinc oxide or titanium dioxide-based product. Do not be afraid to get in the pool – swimming provides hydration to the skin; however, be sure to take a quick shower immediately after swimming in order to remove residual chlorine or other chemicals. And, as always, apply moisturizer when finished.

Performing good daily skin care goes a long way in controlling eczema. Sometimes, though, these steps alone are not enough to manage one’s symptoms. If this is the case, schedule an appointment with a dermatologist to discuss prescription medication options. But remember, the need for prescription medication can be reduced when good skin care is practiced on a regular basis.


Topics and Subtopics: Skin Health

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