Eczema Essentials: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatments
By: Elias Azizi, Contributing Writer
The majority of people worry a lot about the appearance of their skin. Small characteristics like pimples, blackheads, and acne can cause one to go into a frenzy. Initially, these skin conditions may seem to be minor, but they still are concerning for most. However, there is a common condition that tends to be shadowed by more well-known conditions like acne; eczema. Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a condition that makes parts of your skin itchy and red. For most, it is a lifelong condition, as eczema tends to disappear and reappear frequently. According to The National Eczema Association, around 10% of people in the U.S. have some sort of eczema. Although atopic dermatitis doesn’t have a specific cure at the moment, there are still many treatments that can prevent or suppress the complications of eczema. It’s crucial for one to be able to pinpoint eczema in order to be able to manage it.
Signs of Eczema
Like most skin conditions, eczema can be easily identified on the body as it causes dermal changes. Dry, scaly skin and small to large red rashes on the skin are major signs of atopic dermatitis. The rashes can appear almost anywhere around the body. Based on the Mayo Clinic’s analysis of atopic dermatitis, the rashes appear most often on the face, scalp, hands, feet, and upper chest. To add on, a major sign of eczema is excessive scratching. Humans resort to scratching when dealing with itchy conditions like a mosquito bite. However, when it comes to eczema, victims tend to scratch themselves in certain parts of the body to the point where the skin in that area becomes swollen and very sensitive.
Eczema related symptoms
As described prior, the biggest symptom of eczema is itching. The degree or severity of the itching sensation varies for everyone. For some, the itchy feeling may be easy to manage and ignore, making it quite mild. For others, the itchy sensation becomes so unbearable, to the point where one cannot ignore it. One should see their physician about eczema if their itching becomes so dreadful to the point where it is disrupting sleep and affecting one’s everyday life. Furthermore, any sign of infection near the eczema-like pus and yellow scabs is a major red flag and requires medical attention.
Anyone who is diagnosed with eczema should not panic because it usually isn’t very difficult to treat. Not all treatments are medications; some of the treatments are as simple as small lifestyle changes. The National Eczema Association, a non-profit that educates others on eczema, has provided basic measures that help manage eczema. They state that knowing your triggers (what causes one’s eczema outbursts), regular moisturizing, and watching out for skin infections are all it takes to manage and prevent eczema outbursts. Yes, for some, medications like OTC hydrocortisone (a steroid that limits inflammation) may be needed to treat more severe eczema but for most, lifestyle changes are all it takes. However, hydrocortisone isn't intended for long-term use, due to side effects like skin thinning and stretch marks. People experiencing eczema-like symptoms should speak with their dermatologist for long-term treatment.
Eczema is a skin condition that has been around for thousands of years. Based on Atopika, a non-profit that focuses on atopic dermatitis, eczema has existed for at least 2500 years, documented in Ancient Greece. It was first spotted by famed Greek physician, Hippocrates, when he noticed dry and flaky skin patches on a patient.
Eczema may be less well known compared to very common conditions like acne and pimples, but it shouldn’t be forgotten. It affects a vast majority of the world’s population, especially children. Like most skin conditions, eczema can affect one’s appearance, which is why many individuals fear it so much. Although eczema may not have a defined cure, it has an array of different treatments from minor lifestyle changes to strong medications. Any eczema victim must not feel bad about their appearance if they face minor to major eczema. Many people face it throughout their lives and defeat it without any complications, so one must not worry too much. Yes, it may make one feel a bit worried at first, especially if eczema appears in the face, but by using proper treatment methods, it should go away swiftly. Lastly, everyone must remember one simple thing about eczema; the best way to prevent eczema is by taking care of your skin. Don’t be afraid to moisturize your skin when it’s dry, or use cream when it’s peeling, because taking care of your skin is taking care of your health.
Link to cover image: https://healthand.com/ca/topic/general-report/eczema (Image of infant with eczema)