What Is Eczema?

If you have itchy, scaly or inflamed skin, you could have eczema. More than 31 million Americans live with this common condition, which has symptoms that can range from mild to severe.

Eczema is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, although researchers aren’t certain why some people develop it and others do not. Eczema is not contagious, but it can be hereditary.

Fortunately, eczema is treatable. The providers at River’s Edge Hospital’s Urgent Care Department can help diagnose and treat you or your child’s eczema.

What Does Eczema Look Like?

There are seven different types of eczema, so the symptoms can look very different from person to person. You can even have more than one type of eczema at a time, meaning that an outbreak on your back could have different symptoms than an outbreak on your foot.

In general, eczema symptoms may include:

  • Dry, sensitive skin
  • Inflamed patches of skin
  • Itchy skin
  • Oozing or crusting
  • Rash
  • Rough or scaly patches of skin

An eczema flare-up may start as dry, itchy skin and then progress to a more severe rash. Scratching this can make it worse and cause the skin to bleed or ooze.

Can I Get Rid of Eczema?

Some children with eczema will outgrow it. Other people will have eczema flare-ups their entire life. And some adults will develop eczema only after they are grown. Many people with eczema also suffer from chronic allergies and asthma.

Eczema flare-ups can be frequent or only happen every few years. Things that can trigger eczema include:

  • Allergens, including pollen
  • Dry skin
  • Exposure to cold weather
  • Skin irritants
  • Stress

Treatment Options for Eczema

There are many ways to calm itchy skin from eczema. Bathing with a mild soap with warm—not hot—water can help prevent flare-ups, as can using a high-oil-content moisturizer daily.

If your eczema is acting up, some over-the-counter remedies, like these, can help:

  • Antihistamines
  • Apple cider vinegar compresses
  • Baking soda pastes
  • Corticosteroid creams
  • Oatmeal baths
  • Ointments or creams containing ceramides
  • Wet wrap therapy, which uses water-soaked fabric to hydrate the skin

If over-the-counter remedies do not help or you are not sure if you have eczema, it’s important to see a doctor for treatment. Prescription creams and medications may help treat your itchy skin. Other treatments like acupuncture, biologic drugs, immunosuppressants or light therapy may also be recommended.

Find eczema treatment options today at River’s Edge Hospital’s Urgent Care Department.

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