We use all types of wrappings to protect things: plastic bags for sandwiches, bubble wrap to cushion items during shipping, blankets to keep out the cold. Your skin acts like a wrapping, too, protecting tender tissues underneath and keeping out infection. If the blankets get ragged or the bags have a hole, they can’t do their job and may cause other problems. Your skin can be a problem rather than a protector if you have a condition like eczema.
Breaking the Protective Skin Bubble
Atopic dermatitis is the medical term for this red, itchy skin that is covered with little bumps. It is fairly common in children, and can persist as they grow into adults. If you have eczema, you know how uncomfortable and annoying it can be—that constant desire to scratch, often at night, so you don’t sleep well.
Other symptoms of this skin problem include red or brown patches; thick, scaly skin that can turn raw from scratching; and small bumps that open, ooze and crust over when scratched. Children may often develop an infection in the exposed tissue and can develop a fever.
Causes of This Skin Condition
If your skin functions as it should, it will stay moist and protect you from irritants and infection. We don’t understand the exact reason people develop this condition, but a gene variation, problems with your immune system, and dry skin seem to be related.
It can also be a result of a bacterial infection or irritants in your environment. This can include things like soaps, wool fabrics, and anything that sets off your allergies. That could include certain foods like peanuts or wheat, as well as dust, pollen, and feather pillows. It also includes stress, which is why children with ADHD may be more prone to eczema.
How to Treat Eczema
Washing your skin makes sense, to get rid of bacteria and irritants, but don’t do it with long, hot showers, which can actually dry your skin even more. Use warm water and mild soaps without irritants, and pat yourself dry afterwards. Moisturize your skin twice a day, and apply cool, wet cloths if the skin feels itchy. You can also try anti-itch creams like calamine lotion if it is especially bad, but don’t overuse any creams with steroids, as that can actually make your skin worse.
Humidifiers can help, as can a warm bath with dry oatmeal sprinkled in it. Above all, try not to scratch. If you or your child can’t sleep at night because of the itching, come in for a consultation. We may have you try an antihistamine to control the itch, and can prescribe other medications, wet dressings, light therapy, and relaxation methods to help control your stress. Behavior modification can even help you learn not to scratch.
If you suspect you have eczema, call Abbott Foot & Ankle Clinic in Collingwood, ON, at (705) 444-9929, and let us take a look. We are experts in solving foot and ankle problems, and can help get your skin back in great condition. Don’t let your red, irritated skin keep you up at night! Come see us in the Owen Sound, Collingwood, and Barrie area, or keep in touch with us on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for more foot care information.
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