Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis
Eczema is an allergy-related condition that affects your skin’s ability to retain moisture and protect you from bacteria, irritants, and allergens. Doctors have identified 4 types of eczema, all of these having similar symptoms. It is long-lasting with periodic flare-ups which may be accompanied by asthma or hay fever. Patients with eczema may experience dry skin, red or brownish-gray patches of skin on wrists, hands, feet, ankles, neck, upper chest, eyelids, elbow bends and the back of the knees. Some patients experience small, raised bumps that leak fluid and others experience thickened, cracked, and scaly skin. Because the most common complaint is itching, the skin often becomes sensitive and swollen from too much scratching.
If you feel you are experiencing eczema, there are several preventative steps that you can take.
- Moisturize your skin at least twice daily, especially after a bath or show while the skin is still damp.
- Keep your baths and showers short (10-15 minutes) using warm, not hot, water.
- Use mild soaps that do not have harsh perfumes or other chemicals.
- Pat your skin dry after bathing instead of vigorous rubbing motions.
- Identify triggers and avoid them as much as possible. (sweat, stress, soaps, perfumes, dust, pollen, or foods such as dairy, eggs, nuts, weeds, wheat, etc.)
Psoriasis is a common chronic, inflammatory disease of the immune system and involves the skin and joints. Psoriasis occurs when the body sends faulty signals which tell the skin cells to grow too rapidly. The body does not shed these extra cells, so they pile onto the surface of the skin causing patches of red, raised skin which becomes scaly and itchy. Psoriasis can appear on the scalp, hands, feet, knees, and elbows. Patients suffering from psoriasis often report that they have times that it flares up, followed by times that it is less severe. Fortunately, the condition is not contagious.
The goal of treatments for psoriasis is to find the most effective way to slow cell turnover with the fewest possible side effects. These treatments are intended to reduce inflammation and clear the skin as well. There are three basic types of treatments available.
- Topical Treatments. Topical treatments include creams and ointments that are applied to the skin to treat mild to moderate psoriasis. These can include simple moisturizers or can contain salicylic acid, which promotes the sloughing off of dead skin cells.
- Light Therapy. Light therapy uses natural and artificial ultraviolet light exposure to UV rays to slow skin cell turnover, to reduce scaling, and to decrease inflammation.
- Oral and Injected Medications. Oral and injected medications contain ingredients that decrease the production of skin cells and suppress inflammation. Injectable treatments target specific parts of the immune system by blocking the action of the cells that play a major role in developing psoriasis.