If You’ve Been Diagnosed With Eczema, Ask Your Dermatologist These 7 Questions
If you’re suffering from eczema symptoms, a concrete diagnosis can provide a bit of relief at finally understanding why your skin is red, itchy, and irritated. But your next order of business should be having a conversation with your dermatologist about what kind of eczema treatment you should pursue.
There are a lot of ways to treat eczema, as well as lifestyle changes you can make to relieve or prevent the symptoms. Your dermatologist will be able to help you navigate the options based on your specific type of eczema, your age, and your health history.
First Thing’s First: What Type of Eczema Do You Have?
At the Dermatology Center of Indiana, we won’t just diagnose you with eczema; we will tell you the specific type of eczema you have. Eczema manifests in different ways, and depending on which type you have, the best treatment for eczema can vary.
Here is a quick rundown of the different types of eczema:
Atopic Dermatitis (AD)
An extremely common form of eczema that begins with itchy skin that forms a rash. It affects infants, children, and adults. In adults, AD often manifests on the hands or eyes as dry, scaly, or patchy areas. Common symptoms include itching, and raw, bleeding, or oozing skin.
Caused by an irritant that comes in contact with your skin and triggers an itchy, rashy reaction. In some cases, the cause is as simple as the laundry detergent you’re using, but it can also be more difficult to know what you are coming in contact with that is irritating your skin.
Also called Pompholyx, this type of eczema causes tiny, highly itchy blisters on the hands and feet and can become chronic. The most effective treatment is identifying the allergen that is triggering the blisters.
Deep, painful cracks on the hands accompanied by excessively dry or chapped skin. It can lead to painful, bleeding blisters that are uncomfortable and hard to manage, and traditional hand creams and moisturizers do little to relieve the symptoms.
Highly common among adults and tends to affect only one or two patches on the body, as opposed to other types of eczema that affect multiple areas at once. The cause of Neurodermatitis is unknown, but treatments are highly effective.
Typically brought on by extremely dry skin, Nummular Eczema manifests as itchy, red bumps and can look similar to Atopic Dermatitis and RIngworm. Moisturizing treatments are the most helpful for preventing Nummular Eczema.
Primarily affects the lower legs and feet, causing inflammation, swelling, itchiness, scaling, and hyperpigmentation. In some cases, ulceration occurs. Stasis Dermatitis is caused by chronic edema or swelling, and treatment is highly focused on a self-care routine.
7 Questions to Ask Your Dermatologist About Treating and Managing Eczema
- Could my eczema be caused by an allergy or another health condition?
In children specifically, there is a link between allergies and eczema. WebMD presents several interesting statistics about the correlation between allergies and eczema in children and their parents:
- About 80% of children who have eczema experience allergies like hay fever or asthma later in childhood.
- When parents suffer from seasonal allergies or asthma, there is a 1 in 3 chance their child will develop eczema.
- 37% of adults who suffer from nasal allergies or asthma experienced eczema as kids.
- 35% of children with moderate to severe eczema also suffer from food allergies.
While eczema is caused by a problem with the outer layer of your skin, symptoms can correlate with allergies or be exacerbated by certain allergens like pollen, dander, cosmetics, fabric softeners or soaps, and certain foods.
Your dermatologist may recommend allergy testing or an elimination experiment to try and identify a potential allergen that could be causing your eczema to flare up. In some cases, patients may be diagnosed with another health condition like Celiac Disease or Lactose Intolerance that is creating larger problems for their eczema.
- Can I enjoy a day outdoors in the sun without worrying about an eczema flare-up?
Sun exposure can make your eczema worse. When your skin heats up, perspiration or UV ray irritation can cause eczema to flare up or existing flare ups to worsen.
However, your dermatologist can work with you to help you manage your eczema without having to sacrifice quality of life. Days spent outside enjoying the fresh air are extremely healthy for your overall well being, and the right eczema treatment combined with sun protection measures can help you keep your plans, and keep your eczema under control.
- Do sweat and exercise make eczema worse?
Similar to the effects of sun exposure, sweating from exercise or vigorous activity can also cause an eczema flareup, or worsen an existing flare up. However, exercise is important for staying healthy and for reducing stress, and your dermatologist can help you manage your eczema so you can stay comfortable during exerting activities.
- Can stress make my eczema flare-up or worsen?
Emotional stress causes a “fight-or-flight” reaction in the body that produces the stress hormones Cortisol and Adrenaline. When too much Cortisol is produced, it causes an inflammatory response in the body, and this type of internal inflammation can cause your eczema to flare up.
Eczema caused by stress can turn into a vicious cycle when you are also experiencing stress because of your eczema. Stress management is the most important step in managing eczema caused by stress, and your dermatologist can help you pursue the appropriate mental health care to manage your stress and your eczema.
- Can eczema cause other skin conditions or lead to other health complications?
Because eczema is an inflammatory condition, it may put additional stress on the body that makes individuals with eczema more susceptible to other health problems. While eczema has been linked with certain allergies, like hay fever, asthma, or food allergies, it has also been linked to more serious conditions like obesity and heart disease.
Other issues include a greater risk of different skin conditions, mental health challenges caused by feelings of self-consciousness or depression from dealing with eczema symptoms, and even poor sleep habits.
At the Dermatology Center of Indiana, our goal is to understand every aspect of your skin condition, including those that may not be direct symptoms. Treating the whole person is the only way to improve quality of life and avoid additional health challenges down the road.
- Is there a skincare routine I can follow to prevent flare-ups?
Taking care of your skin is important whether or not you have eczema, but for eczema symptoms, a skincare routine that involves daily moisturizing with a fragrance-free cream can be helpful. It is recommended that you apply the moisturizer after bathing as water also adds moisture to the skin.
You can also use ointments or creams with high oil content. Oil won’t burn or sting affected skin as much as a water-based lotion, and it helps seal moisture into your skin.
The National Eczema Association also recommends skin barrier creams. These contain lipids and ceramides, which are naturally occurring substances that support healthy function of the skin. Lipids are part of what makes up the structure and function of skin cells, and ceramides help form a barrier in the skin. Both substances can help the skin heal and be more resistant to eczema symptoms.
Your dermatologist can help you create a healthy daily skincare routine to complement additional eczema treatment. Understanding how to care for your skin, even when you’re not experiencing a flare-up, promotes habits for healthy skin into the future.
- What lifestyle changes can I make to prevent flare-ups?
If you are diagnosed with eczema, you will likely begin a treatment plan after consulting with your dermatologist that can include medicated solutions. However, there are also lifestyle changes that can help keep your eczema under control.
We have already mentioned the importance of adopting a healthy skincare routine and taking precautions when spending time in the sun or when exercising. To further prevent flare-ups and worsening eczema symptoms, wear lighter, loose-fitting clothing made with breathable fabrics, avoid scratching the affected skin, and consider adjusting your diet to avoid foods that can cause an inflammatory response in the body, such as sugar.
Eczema manifests in different forms and can affect everyone differently. All types of eczema are treatable using a combination of medicated solutions and self-directed care, such as adopting a healthy skincare routine and identifying and avoiding allergens and triggers.
Your first step in treating and managing eczema should be asking your dermatologist these 7 important questions and understanding how to keep your eczema under control while maintaining your quality of life. At the Dermatology Center of Indiana, our expert, board-certified dermatologists know the best approach to treating and managing your eczema.
Request an appointment to discuss the best treatment plan for your eczema.