What Questions Might My Healthcare Provider Ask To Diagnose Eczema
The conversation with your healthcare provider will need to cover a lot of information. Be sure to be specific about your symptoms.
- Where is your eczema located?
- What have you used to try to treat your eczema?
- What medical conditions do you have? Allergies? Asthma?
- Is there a history of eczema in your family?
- How long have you had symptoms of eczema?
- Do you take hot showers?
- Is there anything that makes your symptoms worse?
- Have you noticed that something triggers or worsens your eczema? Soaps? Detergents? Cigarette smoke?
- Is there so much itchiness that you have trouble sleeping? Working? Living your normal life?
Stress Anxiety And Eczema
Stress and anxiety are known to be common triggers that can cause eczema to flare up. This can then lead to even more stress and anxiety which can, in turn, lead to even more flares. Reducing stress and anxiety in your life may help break this cycle. Talk with your healthcare provider about steps you can take to manage your stress and anxiety.
Managing Eczema And Stress
“One of the biggest barriers in managing stress and eczema is to be able to clearly recognize what the stressor is,” states Dr. Levenberg. “A specific stressor is often challenging to identify or even change, and so a more general approach to stress reduction may be more helpful. Seek interventions that are known to lower stress and increase relaxation, such as modifying lifestyle factors, managing emotions, getting adequate rest/sleep, eating a healthy diet, and regular exercise, to name a few. Even one night of sleep loss can increase inflammation.
“It is also essential to have a support group or friends and family for positive social relationships,” says Dr. Levenberg. According to studies, positive social interaction can play just as an important role as diet and exercise when it comes to health. In the current pandemic, it may be harder to achieve social support. However, it is essential to still ensure people stay in touch with their friends and family network in a safe, socially distanced, or virtual manner. Research shows that being socially isolated can increase the risk of inflammation to the same extent as being physically inactive in the adolescent years.
1. Eczema Symptoms & Causes | National Eczema Association. National Eczema Association. . Published 2020. Accessed November 9, 2020.
2. Bieber T. Atopic Dermatitis. New England Journal of Medicine. 2008 358:1483-1494. doi:10.1056/nejmra074081
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Eczema And Atopic Dermatitis Treatment
Your doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid cream or ointment to apply to your rash. This will help reduce itching and calm inflammation. Use it right after bathing. Follow your doctors directions for using this medicine or check the label for proper use. Call your doctor if your skin does not get better after 3 weeks of using the medicine.
Antihistamines like hydroxyzine reduce itching. They can help make it easier to not scratch. A new class of drugs, called immunomodulators, works well if you have a severe rash. Two drugs in this class are tacrolimus and pimecrolimus. These drugs keep your immune system from overreacting when stimulated by an allergen. However, they can affect your immune system. So the Food and Drug Administration recommends that these drugs be used only when other treatments wont work.
Try not to scratch the irritated area on your skin, even if it itches. Scratching can break the skin. Bacteria can enter these breaks and cause infection. Moisturizing your skin will help prevent itchiness.
Is It More Than Stress
Stress is usually the result of external factors like work, school, relationships, or life events. Anxiety is more persistent than stress and can be harder to manage without medication or professional therapy.
The bad news? Eczema can be tough to deal with. The good news? There are lots of effective ways to prevent future flare-ups.
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General Tips For Coping With Eczema
Other tips to manage your eczema include:
- Keep your fingernails short longer nails are more likely to injure your skin when you scratch.
- If the water in your area is hard or alkaline, consider installing a water-softening device.
- Swim in the sea in warm weather whenever you can seawater is known to reduce the symptoms of eczema.
- Use sun exposure for limited periods for example, when swimming at the beach. This can help relieve eczema symptoms. But be aware that ultraviolet radiation is a risk factor for skin cancer and premature ageing of the skin. Also, if sun exposure causes overheating, this can also aggravate eczema.
The Impact Of Eczema On Patients
Having eczema can have a negative impact on many aspects of a persons life. It may affect them:
- They may feel frustrated by their disease, angry, or embarrassed by their appearance.
- Those with severe disease are more likely to develop other mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
In the workplace
- They may miss work due to a flare. Or they may also be unable to perform their jobs well because theyre distracted by the itch while at work or because it interferes with their sleep.
- They may avoid pursuing certain types of employment paths . They may also feel that having eczema interferes with their opportunities for advancement in their present job.
In social situations
- They may avoid interacting with others and shy away from social situations.
- They may feel that they dont have the right words to describe their symptoms to others and are unsure about how to respond to questions people may have .
- Eczema may affect intimacy with their partner.
During daily activities
- Eczema can affect common everyday activities such as clothing choices, wearing makeup, shaving, and what they eat and drink.
I often tend to avoid eye contact, as Im embarrassed with what people might seeand think. Ive lost count of the times that Ive been asked things like Who beat you up?, Did you cut yourself shaving?, and Ugh, is that contagious?
–An eczema patient
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What Can I Expect If Ive Been Diagnosed With Eczema
Nearly half of children with eczema will outgrow the condition or experience great improvement by the time they reach puberty. Others will continue to have some form of the disease. For adults with eczema, the disease can be generally well-managed with good skin care and treatment, although flare-ups of symptoms can occur throughout life.
Wear Gloves To Protect The Skin On Your Hands
Wear vinyl or plastic gloves for work that requires you to have your hands in water. Also, wear gloves when your hands are exposed to anything that can irritate your skin. Wear cotton gloves under plastic gloves to soak up sweat from your hands. Take occasional breaks and remove your gloves. This will prevent a buildup of sweat inside your gloves.
Wear gloves when you go outside during the winter. Cold air and low humidity can dry your skin. Dryness can make your eczema worse. Wear clothes made of cotton or a cotton blend. Wool and some synthetic fabrics can irritate your skin.
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How To Stay Safe
The best way to stay safe with eczema during the pandemic is to follow public health guidance to lower the risk of catching COVID-19:
- Continue your eczema medication as prescribed.
- Take steps to avoid and manage flares during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Support your health by reviewing eczema care basics.
- Take steps to reduce stress, manage itching, and improve your sleep hygiene.
- Wash your hands regularly, avoid close contact with others, and socially distance where possible. You can rewash your hands with your usual emollient to protect the skin and use moisturizer after washing hands and when the skin feels dry, cracked, or sore.
- When washing your hands, wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer containing 60% alcohol. Apply moisturizer to your hands once hand sanitizer is dry if it is causing our eczema to worsen.
- Wear a face mask in public settings and where social distancing is not possible. Once you are fully vaccinated, wearing a face mask is optional.
- Avoid crowded situations.
- Practice self-monitoring.
- Avoid contact with people who are unwell.
- If someone in your home becomes unwell, follow medical guidance and isolation advice to reduce the risk of spreading the virus in your home.
Practice Good Bath And Shower Etiquette
Take warm baths or showers and keep them short. Long, hot showers can dry out your skin, making it more prone to flare-ups. Use unscented bath products, and not too much of them. When youre done, use a soft towel to pat yourself dry. Dont rub. Slather moisturizer on your skin immediately after a shower, while your skin is still damp, to help your skin best absorb the moisture and lock it on.
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Sleeping Well When You Have Eczema
The itchy, uncomfortable skin associated with eczema can make sleeping difficult.
To get a better night’s sleep:
- Take a warm, relaxing bath or shower shortly before bed.
- Apply an eczema-friendly moisturizer after bathing to help sooth itches.
- Limit the use of electronics an hour or two before bedtime.
- Limit caffeine intake after lunch.
- Keep your bedroom dark.
- Take over-the-counter, sedating antihistamines shortly before bed to fight itchiness and make you drowsy.
Tips For Reducing Stress
Although getting rid of stress in your life certainly wont result in a cure, it may help to alleviate some of the symptoms of eczema.
Action steps that may alleviate or lower stress include:
- Implement relaxation techniques .
- Get involved in yoga or a similar Eastern practice aimed at promoting relaxation .
- Establish and maintain a regular exercise routine .
- Seek out the support of others (family, friends and/or a
- formal support group).
- Explore options for individual or group therapy when needed.
- Seek medical intervention for symptoms of anxiety or depression.
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Turn To Peer Support And Charities
There are many resources and support groups available online to discuss skin problems and stress. Online communities such as the Patient.info forums or the Talk Psoriasis Support Community are good examples of platforms which can inspire patients to share their stories, and to boost each other’s well-being by connecting, exchanging information, and meeting new friends.
Turning to charities such as Changing Faces, which are doing a lot to raise awareness and to fight stigma, and joining their campaigns, can also be a good option. Interesting resources can also be found on the British Association of Dermatologists website and on Mind & Skin, with a lot of up-to-date information, from podcasts to articles, to guide patients, including with stress management.
But it’s acne awareness which has really increased a lot in recent years, with social media acting as a powerful platform to spread the message. On Instagram and YouTube, there are interesting channels dedicated to talking about acne and the stress it creates. More and more people are posting raw photos of pimples, redness and scars, to show the reality of living with acne, as well as video diaries, testimonials and treatment advice.
How Is Eczema Diagnosed
There is no specific test used to diagnose eczema. A doctor will look at the rash and ask about your symptoms and past health, as well as your family’s health. If you or your family members have any atopic conditions, that’s an important clue.
The doctor will want to rule out other conditions that can cause skin inflammation. The doctor might recommend that you see a dermatologist or an allergist.
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Tips For Healthy Eating
- As we get older, we often have smaller appetites, so tend to eat less. Its important to maintain a balanced diet, which will help to support tissue healing, particularly when the skin is broken.
- Fats, protein and zinc found in dairy foods all help healing. Vitamin C in fruit and vegetables helps combat infection.
- Its important to drink plenty of fluids, as dehydration can reduce the flow of oxygen and nutrients essential for healing.
- A balanced intake of vitamins will help to boost the immune system.
To obtain the information on this page in a PDF format, please download our Eczema in later life factsheet, below.
The Emotional Impact Of Eczema
Its not always obvious how much impact eczema can have on a person’s daily life. Coping with eczema is something that many people with the condition find challenging. The negative emotional effects of the symptoms can last for many years, even after the physical symptoms subside.
Eczema can affect people at any age, but it’s usually diagnosed during infancy or childhood. Statistically, nearly 10% to 20% of all infants will develop eczema approximately half of those who are diagnosed with the condition will outgrow it, having fewer symptoms as they age.
But some people continue to have eczema throughout their adult lifetime. Studies have found that people with eczema report that the condition negatively impacts their lives, exceeding those who have insulin-dependent diabetes.
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What Does The Research Say
Eczema can have several root causes. In some people, eczema stems from a genetic mutation that affects your bodys ability to make a skin protein called filaggrin. Without enough of this protein, your skin can get dry easily. This makes you more susceptible to skin irritation and outbreaks. You can also get eczema from allergic reactions.
Outbreaks of eczema, as is the case with other skin conditions, can be triggered by stress. Stress causes a spike in the hormone cortisol . When your body produces high amounts of cortisol because of stress, your skin can become abnormally oily. This can then trigger an eczema outbreak. One study also suggests that stress makes it harder for your skin to recover from irritation and skin damage. Not only does stress cause eczema, it can make eczema outbreaks last longer and make you feel more stressed as a result. This can lead to a seemingly endless cycle.
Another study showed that stress during pregnancy can cause infants to be at risk for eczema outbreaks. This study looked at the pregnancies of nearly 900 mothers and their children and found that women with higher levels of anxiety during their pregnancies increased their childrens chances of having eczema when they were between 6 and 8 months old.
Eczema Coping Tips Diet
In most cases, eczema isnt caused or made worse by diet. If you notice that your eczema seems to get worse after eating a particular food, you may be an exception to this. See your doctor or dietitian for proper allergy testing and dietary advice.Never self-diagnose or you risk depriving yourself of enjoyable and nutritious foods for no good reason. Unnecessarily avoiding certain foods can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
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Find An Eczema Support Group
Even though eczema is a common disease affecting more than 31 million Americans, many people say they are too embarrassed or ashamed to talk about it. Oftentimes, they report covering up their skin and thus go through life not knowing if the person standing in line next to them also has eczema. Its human nature to want to talk with others who have the same problem and know what youre going through. The National Eczema Association can help. Connect with us on and to discuss the latest news and research with others in the eczema community. Join Eczema Wise, an online support group where people living with or affected by eczema can post discussion topics, exchange ideas and make new friends.
But How Is The Healing Crisis Associated With Eczema
For you to begin healing your eczema, it is vital that you start by reducing the inflammation in your body. Nonetheless, when your body begins to reduce the inflammation, it also emits other toxins into the body system that it needs to eliminate. This in turn causes the healing crisis. Additionally, it is important to note that the detoxification process normally takes place in three stages:
Whilst you wont necessarily experience it suddenly, these toxins in your system can later affect the body as they try to exit. When you have eczema, you may first go through flare ups in your skin. This is because your skin is the bodys largest excreting organ, and its actually one of the easiest ways to get rid of the toxins in your body . Its also because of the fact that the initial circulating toxins are as a result of eczema triggers.
During this time, even if youre on a good eczema diet, you may get rashes in places you may never have had before. If youre going through topical steroid withdrawal , you may also find that you may get eczema flare ups in the places that you used to put steroids on the most.
Remember that the healing crisis is absolutely normal, since your body is only cleansing past eczema toxins that have been persistent in your system.
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