So you have eczema… What now?

Always had a tendency to dry skin? Recently noticing irritating, red patches that itch? Suspect it may be eczema?

If this is you the first thing you need to do is consult a doctor. Rashes need to be diagnosed properly before they are treated. The only proper way to get a diagnosis of eczema is have it checked out thoroughly by a trained practitioner.

Eczema, although generally thought of as a childhood condition can develop at any age. Some forms of eczema are actually more common in adults. It is estimated that 8% of adults in the UK suffer from eczema.

Once diagnosis is made

Once you have a diagnosis of eczema from your doctor it is time to start treating the condition. The severity of the condition will vary. For some the skin will be dry, hot and itchy, more of a nuisance really.

Whilst for others the skin may become raw, broken and painful, becoming much more than a mere inconvenience. It is important to remember that regardless of how severe your eczema is the condition is not contagious.

At this point in time there is no cure for eczema. So the dry, red, itchy and inflamed skin is here to stay right?

Not necessarily.

Whilst not curable, eczema is manageable.

The skin will always be sensitive, however with a good daily skin care regime and a few minor life style changes you can control the condition and minimize flare ups. Finding the right treatment to suit your skin may take some trial and error.

General tips to help control your eczema

  • Do not overheat the skin – have tepid showers or baths.
  • Launder clothes in a neutral pH detergent and wash all new clothes before wearing them.
  • Avoid soaps, perfumes, detergents and solvents. Use soap substitutes that are not damaging to the skin when washing.
  • Avoid prolonged or excessive exposure to water as water will dry the skin.
  • Add a bath oil to your bath water to soften the water and prevent the skin from drying out.
  • Avoid synthetic and woolen clothing and bedding. Cotton is best, as it is less irritating.
  • Keep finger nails short to minimize the damage caused to the skin by scratching.
  • Adopt a regular daily skin care program using emollients and moisturizers.

Mel Sinclair, RN