Symptoms of Eczema?
Eczema causes a dry, red, itchy rash. It may be scaly, weep, bleed or crust over. 1 in 5 children and 1 in 12 adults suffer from eczema. It is caused when the skins barrier function, which prevents water loss and protects against allergens and irritants, is impaired or weakened. This causes the skin to dry out and as a result becomes vulnerable to infections and viruses.
Eczema symptoms can be effectively managed with treatment. There are several ways of treating eczema including:
- Avoiding the cause
- Use of emollients
- Topical corticosteroid (severe)
- Oral corticosteroids (widespread severe)
- Antibiotics (when eczema becomes infected).
Emollients are hugely important in the treatment of eczema. They help keep the skin moisturised and hence decrease water loss and prevents skin from drying out.
5 Tips for using emollients
- Use large amounts
- Keep separate supplies for work/school/car etc.
- Apply at the very least twice daily but preferably more often. The more the better!
- Smooth into skin in direction of hair growth
- After baths pat skin dry and apply emollient while skin is still moist.
Creams or lotions are better for red, weeping wet areas of eczema while ointments are more appropriate for areas of dry skin. I would often recommend using creams during the day and ointments at night as creams/lotions do not take as long to absorb in and are more likely to be used! Choice of emollient is very individual although my recommendations would be la roch posay Lipikar range and aveeno dermexa. Hydromol ointment and epaderm cream are very useful as they are SLS free. Buy Here
Topical corticosteroids work by decreasing redness and inflammation. Different strengths of corticosteroids can be prescribed depending on the severity and location of the eczema.
4 Tips for using corticosteroids
- Apply emollient first and wait up to 20 minutes until emollient has absorbed in before applying the corticosteroid.
- Apply sparingly EG 1 fingertip unit means a line of corticosteroid from first line of adult index finger to tip covers the area of two palms.
- Continue to apply corticosteroid for 48 hours after eczema has cleared up.
- If it hasn’t been treated within 2 weeks, return to your GP as a stronger corticosteroid may be required.
Sometimes eczema may become infected. The infection must be treated with antibiotics often in topical form before the eczema can be cleared up.
5 General treatment tips
- Bath daily in lukewarm water. There are many excellent brands available to add to the bath water. Milton has often been recommended in severe cases as it will help kill bacteria and hence prevent infections.
- Apply emollient in the direction of hair growth.
- Avoid wool. Use soft, cotton smooth, cool clothing.
- Anti-histamines can be very effective especially when the eczema is very itchy.
- Be very vigilant around viruses like chickenpox. I would recommend speaking with your GP about getting the chickenpox vaccine.
Need more advice? Drop into our Market Cross or Teeling Street pharmacies Sligo Town.