Eczema (sometimes called atopic dermatitis) is a skin condition that causes dry, itchy, and irritated patches of skin. Like many health conditions, eczema can have periodic flare-ups during which symptoms are noticeably worse. Knowing how to manage your eczema can help you deal with and even minimize eczema flare-ups.
What is an Eczema Flare-Up?
An eczema flare-up is a period of time during which symptoms of eczema worsen. Red or brownish colored rashes may appear on the skin, and the affected skin can be irritated, sensitive, raw, itchy, dry, and cracked. The skin may also be swollen, thickened, bumpy, raised, and oozing (especially when scratched). Flare-ups of eczema can be accompanied by asthma or hay fever.
What Causes an Eczema Flare-Up?
Eczema flare-ups are caused by a variety of factors, such as stress, allergens, irritants, infections, and even changes in the weather. It is not uncommon for eczema to worsen in winter due to temperature drops and decreased humidity levels. Between flares, eczema symptoms will diminish or disappear entirely. Some people experience several years of respite between eczema flare-ups.
How Can I Deal with an Eczema Flare-Up?
Dealing with eczema flare-ups requires both preventive measures and symptom management. Start with the following:
Most eczema flare-ups start with contact with an allergen or irritant. Find out what could be causing your skin inflammation and avoid contact with that substance. Allergy testing can help you accurately determine the true culprit: for example, if you always experience flare-ups in the winter, is the real trigger the cold, dry weather or an unknown allergy to wool or another warm fabric that you wear in colder weather? Start by minimizing your exposure to the most common eczema triggers, especially any known allergies, harsh cleansers, dust/pollen, sweat, and stress.
Use Good Skin Care
Skin affected by eczema is usually very dry and irritated, so it is important to use moisturizer regularly and avoid harsh skin care products. Gentle cleansers accompanied by moisturizer, applied both morning and night, can calm your skin and reduce your tendency to scratch. Apply daily lotion or moisturizing cream to eczema-prone areas all over the body, especially the hands, wrists, inside the knees or elbows, feet, ankles, neck, upper chest, and eyelids.
Manage Stress Levels
Because eczema flare-ups are often brought on by stress, find ways to keep your stress levels under control. If stressful situations cannot be avoided, take time to meditate, relax, or participate in enjoyable leisure activities to maintain balance.
Wear Better Clothing Fabrics
Many clothing materials are irritating to the skin. Simply changing fabrics could go a long way toward preventing skin irritation and managing symptoms of an eczema flare-up. Choose lightweight, soft fabrics year-round, and use layers for warmth during colder weather.
Manage Symptoms Properly
Even if you do everything you can to prevent eczema flare-ups, they can still occur. Choosing the right treatments can help you keep your symptoms under control. Recommended treatments include:
- Medicated eczema creams to control itching and repair the damaged skin
- Antibiotics (topical or oral) to treat infections, open sores, and cracks in the skin
- Anti-inflammatory medications to reduce inflammation
- Oral antihistamines to minimize allergic reactions (especially for those with severe itchiness that can cause trouble sleeping)
If you are having trouble managing and preventing eczema flare-ups, schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified dermatologists here at Medovate Dermatology. We can help you deal with this chronic skin condition so that you can enjoy a better quality of life.
Call Medovate at (847) 499-5500 to schedule your appointment today.