Over the years, McLean Dermatology providers have worked with many patients who were struggling with eczema (also known as dermatitis). This skin condition can manifest in many ways, but is characterized by patches of red, inflamed skin that itches, and can be accompanied by dry skin flakes.
If you are struggling with eczema, it’s important to keep in mind that the condition is unlikely to resolve on its own, without medical intervention or lifestyle changes. This is because eczema can have many causes and can sometimes appear in cycles. Therefore, figuring out the root cause of the problem and finding the best course of treatment are absolutely vital for getting this condition under control.
If you have questions about eczema or would like to schedule a consultation with one of the expert providers at McLean Dermatology, give us a call at (703) 356-5111, or use our Contact Form to get in touch.
What is Eczema?
The term ‘eczema’ is often associated with skin dryness, and for good reason. Our skin is vital for our health, because it forms an effective barrier that keeps us safe from bacteria and viruses. However, this barrier relies heavily on moisture to maintain its strength and effectiveness.
When moisture becomes depleted, the natural barrier becomes more vulnerable to the bacteria on our skin and in the environment. This causes the body to react with an inflammatory response, because the immune system perceives a threat. In turn, this response leads to the development of red, itchy patches on the skin.
However, there does not have to be an actual threat to the body for this response to occur. In some individuals, eczema is the result of the body perceiving a certain chemical as a threat. For example, the immune system may incorrectly perceive chemicals in a skin cream or a detergent as a threat, and react with inflammation.
Some patients may even experience eczema as a reaction to chemicals in their work settings. For example, individuals who work in manufacturing or cosmetology may find their symptoms become exacerbated after work, only to be improved during a vacation. Eczema flareups can also be triggered by stress.
Eczema is also exacerbated by dry skin, so the skincare products you use as well as your daily routine can impact when your eczema flares significantly.
Here at McLean Dermatology we believe in providing every patient with individualized care and attention. In many ways, your skin is a reflection of your daily habits and underlying health conditions. This is why we carefully study your skin and take the time to understand which factors may contribute the most to your eczema symptoms.
When it comes to treating this skin condition, we can utilize a variety of options customized to your unique needs. Here are just some of the eczema treatment options we may suggest:
- Moisturizing: One aspect of treating eczema is providing the skin with ample moisture. This will help strengthen the protective barrier of the skin and reduce the inflammatory response. However, not all moisturizers are created equal – some just smell nice but are incredibly weak at delivering moisture to your skin. We will help you select the best moisturizer for your skin type and help you figure out the best skin care routine to keep your skin hydrated without clogging pores. Thick creams are often better for eczema-prone skin compared to lotions because they are more soothing and moisturizing.
- Habits: Another major aspect of treating eczema is figuring out which aspects of your daily routine are contributing to the problem. Over-washing your skin with harsh soaps strips the oils of the skin that cannot repair itself, and cause a flareup of eczema. Or, perhaps a certain chemical or the soap at your workplace causes the body to react with inflammation. You may also be using a skin care product that actively depletes the moisture levels in the skin.
- Topical Steroids: For some patients, as corticosteroid ointment may be a viable treatment option. Topical steroids treat eczema by reducing inflammation and the associated redness. However, it’s important to accurately assess which corticosteroid concentration will be the best solution in your situation and to use the steroids carefully; it is unsafe to use topical steroids long-term.
Taking the First Step
If you’re struggling with eczema, it’s important to get help for this issue as soon as possible. Although this condition is not life threatening or contagious, chronic inflammation can lead to the eventual development of other health conditions. Further, by effectively treating this skin condition, you can significantly improve how your skin feels and eliminate the itchiness and other discomfort.
To schedule your eczema appointment, please give us a call at (703) 356-5111.
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