Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition characterized by a red, itchy rash. Though it’s most common in children, adults often struggle with eczema as well. An estimated 30 million Americans are said to have it, with many going undiagnosed. If you’ve noticed symptoms of eczema in you or your child, you’ll need to make an appointment with your dermatologist right away. They are your best resource for information, and the earlier the case is assessed, the easier it will be to manage in the long run.
Dr. Joel Schlessinger recommends keeping a log of eczema symptoms.
Before your first appointment, there are certain steps you can take to help your dermatologist give you the best possible care. In the days or weeks leading up to your session, keep a detailed log of signs and symptoms, jotting down as much as you can about the condition of your or your child’s skin. You’ll want to list symptoms, any changes that occur in symptoms over time and a list of potential triggers. If you noticed that the rash appeared to worsen after a long, hot shower, for example, you’ll want to make a note. Be on the lookout for other common irritants such as soaps and detergents, sweat, pet dander and sun exposure.
Certain foods are suspected to cause or trigger eczema, especially in infants and toddlers, but studies are inconclusive. If you suspect a link between eczema and diet, you may want to log your or your child’s meals and snacks, and also any vitamins, supplements or medications. It’s a good idea to bring these items to the appointment so that your dermatologist can look over dosages and directions. This is especially important when it comes to prescription medications for preexisting conditions.
Soaps and detergents that contain fragrance and dyes are often linked to eczema. These can often leave behind an irritating residue that triggers or worsens eczema symptoms. You’ll need to write down the soaps, detergents and other household products you or your child come into contact with to begin the process of elimination. Keep in mind that sometimes responses are delayed. It could be up to 48 hours after contact with the substance before symptoms are noticed, so it helps to monitor signs as they occur within a specific timeframe.
Ask the right questions to better understand eczema, says Dr. Joel Schlessinger.
Prepare a list of questions to ask your dermatologist that will help you better understand your unique case. Treatment for eczema is never one size fits all, and you’ll want to be sure you’re taking the proper steps and precautions to prevent flare-ups. Start with the following questions and add as many of your own as you’d like.
How severe is my/my child’s eczema?
Understanding the severity of your or your child’s eczema can help you form goals for the treatment and management of the condition. It can also help shape realistic expectations for controlling flare-ups.
Is the condition temporary or chronic? Will it go away on its own?
Some individuals develop eczema in childhood and then overcome it as they grow older. Others experience their first flare-up well into adulthood. Eczema has also been linked to asthma and allergies, so understanding the nature of your or your child’s case can provide clues about other health concerns.
What is causing my/my child’s eczema?
Knowing your or your child’s unique eczema triggers is crucial to controlling symptoms. Every case is different, and managing eczema may be as simple as switching detergents or it may involve bigger lifestyle changes.
What treatment do you recommend?
There are several treatments available for eczema. These range from creams or balms, like FixMySkin Healing Body Balm with 1% Hydrocortisone, for mild cases, to corticosteroid injections for more severe cases. Other options include light therapy, wet bandages and oral medications. Your dermatologist will likely have a specific treatment in mind for your individual needs, however, it’s always a good idea to understand other options to explore if needed. There is no cure, for eczema, but symptoms can be managed with diligent treatment. In addition to FixMySkin, you might explore Avene TriXera+ Selectiose Emollient Cream, a dry skin formula that can help protect skin and restore the natural moisture barrier. Dr. Schlessinger also likes EltaMD Melting Moisturizer. The lightweight treatment helps keep 90% of moisture in skin for up to 12 hours.
What lifestyle changes can I make to help manage my/my child’s eczema?
Managing eczema triggers can involve extensive trial and error. Your dermatologist can help pinpoint likely causes and help you get started with any changes you’ll need to make. They can also recommend the best irritant-free products available for you and your family. Dr. Schlessinger recommends Free & Clear detergents and strongly discourages the use of fabric softeners and dryer sheets with synthetic fragrance. Switching to a pure detergent as soon as eczema symptoms begin can go a long way toward managing the condition in the long run. For soaps, shampoos, sunscreens and more that are free of fragrance and dyes, try Vanicream products. The formulas are gentle enough for the whole family and perfect for daily use.
Do you have a question for Dr. Schlessinger? Let us know in the comments section.