What Your Doctor Wants You to Know About Eczema

Eileen Bailey | Jun 29th 2017 Aug 31st 2017

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You aren’t alone

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There are over 31 million people in the United States with eczema, including 17.8 million who have moderate to severe symptoms. According to the National Eczema Foundation, anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of children live with eczema.

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There are many types of eczema

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Many people equate the term atopic dermatitis with eczema, but that is only one type of the condition. Effective treatment plans are based on the individual, the type of eczema, and their lifestyle and exposure to triggers.

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Some common types of eczema

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In addition to atopic or contact dermatitis, the National Eczema Society lists other types, including:

  • Discoid eczema, which appears as round, thick rashes
  • Infected eczema, which has blisters
  • Allergic eczema, which is triggered by allergens and appears as itchy white or red lumps or sheets of a red rash
  • Astheototic eczema is more common in the elderly, and people with very dry skin are at an increased risk of developing it.
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Eczema runs in families

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According to the Encyclopedia of Children’s Health, if one parent has atopic dermatitis, their child has a 60 percent chance of developing it. If both parents do, the odds increase to 80 percent.

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Eczema is associated with other allergies

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Those with eczema are at a higher risk for developing food allergies — such as allergy to cow’s milk, eggs, and peanuts — and asthma. Between 50 and 70 percent of people with eczema will develop asthma, and roughly 50 percent of children with eczema are sensitive to cow’s milk according to a study published in Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism.

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Not all eczema is the same

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Your symptoms are yours, and they might not be the same as someone else’s. For example, many children stop having symptoms after a few years, though some continue to have them well into adulthood. Different parts of the body might be affected, or you might experience flares at only certain times of the year, while another person experiences flares throughout the year.

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Triggers are tricky

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Knowing your triggers can help you manage symptoms, but there are times when you could experience a flare without understanding why it happened. Sometimes triggers remain a mystery. The National Eczema Association lists common triggers, including dry skin, irritants, stress, sweating, heat, infection, allergens, and changes in hormone levels in the body.

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Steroid creams can have side effects

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Steroid creams are often used to control symptoms and reduce itchiness. They are best used for short periods, as long-term use has been associated with thinning, thickening, and bruising of the skin, as well as stretch marks, according to the National Eczema Association.

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Eczema can lead to other health problems

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Besides the eczema rash, you can develop skin infections from cracks in your skin’s surface. The pain and itchiness can cause problems with sleep and concentration, according to the Rady Children’s Hospital. Some people experience emotional distress such as anxiety and depression, which can stem from self-consciousness and embarrassment.

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Your future

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There is no cure for eczema, but with proper medical treatment, your symptoms can be controlled and managed. Talk to your doctor not only about your physical symptoms but also the emotional toll.