Eczema got you down?

Atopic Dermatitis, otherwise known as eczema, is one of those things you don’t want to have. I mean sure, you could get something worse but this is the gift that keeps on giving if you have the chronic type. For those of you that don’t know it’s a dry, cracked, scaly, itchy rash. Sometimes it can be severe to the point where it causes swelling, pain and even psychological problems. It’s often more like high blood pressure than a toothache. With a toothache you go to the dentist, get a filling, maybe some antibiotics and “POOF” problem solved. A few years down the road you probably can’t even remember which tooth it was or that you even had a toothache. With high blood pressure as long as you take your blood pressure medicine your blood pressure stays under control but if you stop your blood pressure medicine then your blood pressure goes back up. We don’t have a cure for high blood pressure where you get a pill and then problem solved. Same story with chronic atopic dermatitis. As long as you do A, B and C it should stay under control but if you stop then boom, it’s back. The problem is what we ask you to do for eczema is so much more work than taking a pill once a day. Here are the first three things I ask my eczema patients to do that usually keep it under control.

1. Get Greasy- As often as possible lube your body up. My first choices are plain petroleum jelly or crisco. If that’s too greasy for you then my second choice is something plain and thick that comes in a jar. If it comes in a pump or something like that it usually isn’t thick enough. Put it on as often as you can and especially within 3 minutes of getting out of the shower to lock in all that moisture.

2. Avoid irritants- Think about fragrances, colors and additives like wool. If you rub wool on your skin it’s going to cause an irritated rashy spot. Things much gentler will irritate the skin of someone with eczema. Baby soap is a no-no because they put a fragrance in it to smell like baby. Seriously, the plainest plain is what you want, no oatmeal added blah, blah, blah. I like plain Dove soap. Oh, and speaking of Dove, have you seen their legacy video? If you have a daughter it’s a must see, you can thank me later.¬†

3. Prescription lotions, creams and ointments- The most common being topical steroids which can’t be used long term because they can cause side effects such as acne, thinning of the skin, stretch marks and more. So we usually reserve them for flares. There are non-steroidal options too like Calcipotriene, Elidel, Vectical and Protopic, to name a few.

Those are the basics but as an additional tip I usually ask my eczema patients to do occasional bleach baths. It’s a 1/4 cup of bleach in a full bath tub and you soak in it for 20 minutes. It kills all the stuff that lives on our skin and gets in that cracked skin keeping it from healing and causing infection.

After you’ve done all of the above and still aren’t getting to where you want to be, we start trying all different kinds of things that may or may not help. We may ask you to do wet-to-dry dressings. Some people get patch tested to find out if something they are coming into contact with is causing/worsening their rash. Some people get UV light treatment to try to decrease the skin’s immune system. Sometimes we put you on short courses of oral medicines.¬†There are lots of tricks of the trade. If you are suffering with chronic atopic dermatitis and gave up a long time ago and just kind of live with it, STOP! Come see me, spend some time with me and let me try my best to help you.

This post was born after seeing our ad in the newspaper today, did you see it?

Happy Sunday Fun Day to all, Nina



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