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That Might Be More Than a Skin Rash

Thursday, May 13th

That Might Be More than a Skin Rash

We all know that certain people are more sensitive than others. They are more prone to develop allergies and may "break out" or have skin rashes more often than others. While some of these rashes may be due to an allergic reaction, there are medical conditions that cause periodic skin rashes such as psoriasis and eczema.

Eczema is a skin condition that normally appears in young children and follows them throughout life. Sixty percent of all cases of eczema appear before age one and an amazing 90 percent by the age of five. In some cases, this disorder can become less severe and may even disappear as the person gets older, but for the most part, it is a life-long sentence. In fact, more than half of the people who develop eczema as children continue to suffer with it as adults.

Eczema is identified by red, scaly, bumpy, itchy patches that can become infected and may discharge liquid or pus. In patients who scratch a lot, the skin of the infected areas can become thick and raised up. While other skin conditions can resemble eczema, there are certain spots of the body that are characteristic for eczema flare ups: behind the knees, in front of the elbows, the neck, and in other folds of the skin.

Since eczema can be confused with other conditions, the placement of the rash is key to identifying the disorder. Family history is also taken into consideration and a biopsy may also be ordered.

Although the exact cause of eczema is unknown, certain factors do contribute to it. People who are overly sensitive to their environment or people who have a lot of allergies tend to be more susceptible to the disorder. It also is common in people who have a family history of eczema.

There are also certain triggers that can lead to an eczema flare up in persons who have been diagnosed with the disorder. Here is a short list of things that can cause an eczema skin rash:

  • Certain types of clothing such as wool or other material that irritates the skin.
  • Lower humidity and/or temperature.
  • Stress
  • Creams, perfumes, or soaps may make it worse.
  • The weather.

By avoiding the triggers that cause flare ups and by following doctor-prescribed regimens, most eczema patients can lessen the impact that eczema has on their skin and lives. They can lengthen the time between episodes and can lessen the severity of those episodes when they do occur.

Research continues, and one day a cure for eczema may be found. In the meantime, newer and better products are being formulated with fewer side effects than the options that have been used in the past. And many cases are able to be managed with these newer choices. While it's not a cure, it's a step in the right direction - which is a relief for eczema sufferers young and old alike.

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