In this tutorial, Chris Schach M.D., discusses etiology, prevention, and treatment of this common skin problem. There are many factors that lead to dry skin and eczema that are preventable and fairly easy to manage with over the counter treatments. In this video, practical information about prevention of eczema and the use of recommended topical moisturizers is discussed. Learn the basics to get relief from your dry skin or winter itch.
Watch our tutorials, given by U.S. Board Certified dermatologists, at Onlinedermclinic.com.
DRY SKIN AND Eczema MANAGEMENT GUIDE
Dry skin (xerosis or asteatosis) occurs when moisture and barrier oils are lost from the epidermis. This leads to cracks in the skin.....like a dry river bed. Dry skin tends to be itchy. On going dry skin with resultant scratching may lead to red, inflamed and scaly patches. This itchy inflamed skin condition is known as Eczema or dermatitis.
Eczema (dermatitis) is not contagious. While certain allergies may worsen Eczema, they are not the basic cause of Eczema. Most patients can be controlled with treatments available today. Control of Eczema is essential because the itching and other discomforts associated with this disease can intrude on the quality of life.
Soap is irritating to the skin of persons with dry skin or dermatitis, and should be used sparingly, if at all. A "soap substitute" such as CeraVe, Cetaphil, Purpose or Oilatum is recommended. Dove unscented body wash is another good alternative.
Wool acts like sandpaper on dry skin. Wool blankets, upholstery, rugs, car seats and coats should be avoided. Silk and synthetic clothes may worsen the condition also. Cotton is usually well tolerated.
Dry skin may lead to dermatitis. Low humidity robs the skin of its moisture. Keep the skin moist with bland emollients such as CeraVe or Cetaphil cream. These are most beneficial when applied over wet skin after bathing. Use an ointment like Vaseline petroleum jelly or aquaphor to the most severe cases of dry skin. Sometimes creams or lotions will sting or burn when applied to raw skin. A room humidifier/cool mister is helpful during the winter months.
Emotions -- The tiny skin blood vessels are under control of the sympathetic nervous system. We blush with embarrassment, flush with anger, and pale with fright. When persons with dry skin or Eczema (dermatitis) get mad, their skin gets red and starts to itch. This is true even of small babies.
The time of year -- Most people with dry skin or dermatitis are worse in the winter and improve during the summer.
Geographical area -- The place you live rarely makes any real difference. Dry skin and Eczema (dermatitis) occurs in all peoples of all nations of the world.
Scratching -- Dry skin and dermatitis is commonly known to get worse with scratching. Persons with dry skin or dermatitis itch much more easily than those who do not have Eczema. Rubbing and scratching worsen Eczema -- it is very important to minimize scratching. Eczema does not cause scars but scratching may.
Diets -- Special elimination diets are seldom of help in dry skin or Eczema. A normal, well-balanced diet should be followed. Oral consumption of oils (like canola or olive oil) will not moisturize skin.
Avoid things that irritate -- Fragrance, woolen products, excess heat or cold, emotional upsets, dust, soaps, animal hair, feathers. Avoid fragrant laundry detergent and avoid all fabric softeners.
Control the dry skin -- Special soap substitutes should be used. Bathe no more than once daily. After bathing apply the prescribed medications or a lubricating cream or ointment to the moist skin to help keep water in the skin.
Apply a cortisone preparation to the areas of Eczema or that itch as directed, usually twice daily.
Control scratching -- Stockings over hands may help control scratching in children. Keep fingernails trimmed. Antihistamines (used as anti-itch medications) are helpful, especially at bedtime.
In severe cases of Eczema or for flare ups, oral medications, light therapy, or injections may be used to control the disease. Flare-ups should be brought under control early -- waiting will only make it more difficult to achieve control.