While you may expect a skin rash to appear before the itching starts, some types of eczema can cause itching long before a rash develops. The skin care professionals at Specialists in Dermatology, with offices in Houston and The Woodlands, Texas, can help stop the itching and rashes associated with eczema. If you’re troubled by dry, irritated, itchy skin -- with or without a rash -- call Specialists in Dermatology today for an appointment, or take advantage of their convenient online scheduling service.
The term “eczema” covers a wide range of skin conditions that cause skin irritation and inflammation. Eczema is not contagious and can’t be spread from one person to the next. It may worsen for a time, seem to go away, and then flare up again for no apparent reason.
The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis, which often starts before age five, but may occur in adulthood as well. Usually beginning with significantly dry skin and itching that’s often intense at night, atopic dermatitis can cause red, scaly patches of skin that may crack and bleed or become infected due to constant scratching. Individuals with atopic dermatitis often have allergies or asthma as well.
Other forms of eczema include:
It’s believed that eczema may be linked to an overactive immune response to an irritant and your skin’s inability to retain moisture. It’s not always related to an external contact, however. Some people with eczema may develop an itchy rash after becoming too hot or too cold. Sometimes increased emotional stress or a viral illness such as a cold can cause an eczematous rash. It sometimes runs in families and may have a genetic component as well.
There is no cure for eczema and treatments typically focus on relieving your symptoms. Taking quick, room-temperature showers rather than long, hot soaks and applying moisturizer liberally afterward when your skin is still damp may help your skin retain moisture. Sometimes the best treatment is avoiding the trigger, such as wearing gloves when washing dishes to prevent hand eczema caused by immersion in soapy water.
Otherwise, your skin care specialist may prescribe topical corticosteroids to lessen inflammation or steroid-free topical immunomodulators to regulate the local immune response of the skin. Other helpful treatments include oral antihistamines, phototherapy (light therapy) or oral immunosuppressants (cyclosporine or methotrexate). In addition, a newer biologic can be considered for adults with severe eczema that does not respond to topical steroids.