Dry, itchy, red, bumpy skin: these are all symptoms of the common condition known as eczema (also called atopic dermatitis), which affects approximately 15 million Americans. This condition damages the skin’s natural barrier, making your skin more susceptible to dryness and infection. Though neither inherently dangerous nor contagious, eczema is nonetheless irritating and can take a real toll on one’s self-esteem. As such, many of those who suffer from it will want to determine how to cure eczema permanently, if at all possible. But is there actually a lasting, effective cure for eczema? Let’s go over some of the best ways to combat eczema currently.
Before we discuss ways to mitigate eczema symptoms, it helps to understand where this condition comes from in the first place. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t so simple. Like many other skin conditions, eczema is caused by several potential factors that interact with one another, including genetics, immune system activity, and environmental triggers. Some individuals are more likely to develop eczema than others due to their family history. Generally speaking, however, eczema outbreaks occur when one’s skin comes into direct contact with a material or substance that triggers an allergic (immune) response. The range of triggers will differ from one person to the next, but common ones include hot water, cleaning chemicals, sweat, tight clothing, pet dander, dust, pollen, dry air, and saliva. Eczema can also be inflamed by severe stress.
Figuring out which materials and activities tend to trigger your eczema will empower you to steer clear of flare-ups by avoiding such triggers. Of course, some triggers may remain a mystery, and not all of them are easily avoided. The good news is that there are multiple eczema treatment options available that can help reduce symptoms.
Prescription-strength topical creams and ointments (i.e. corticosteroids) are often effective at controlling itching and repairing skin. Other creams contraining calcineurin inhibitors can also minimize eczema symptoms, affecting your immune system directly. Those suffering from a bacterial infection as a result of eczema may be prescribed topical or oral antibiotics. Oral corticosteroids like prednisone present another option for mitigating severe eczema, but overuse can have serious side effects on your immune system. Most recently, the FDA has approved an injectable biologic, dupilumab (Dupixent), for those with the most severe eczema symptoms, though more time is needed to see just how effective this treatment is (it’s also costly as of now).
Patients who don’t respond well to the drugs mentioned above may benefit from a number of therapies shown to relieve eczema symptoms, incliding light therapy, wet dressing, and stress reduction techniques (e.g. meditation, behavior modification, talk therapy). You can also treat ezcema with certain lifestyle changes, such as taking shorter, cooler baths and showers, wearing loose-fitting clothing, moisturizing your skin at least once a day, installing a humidifier in your home or office, and so on.
In short, medical scientists have yet to come up with an eczema cure, and there’s no guarantee that this condition will ever be completely curable. That said, eczema is highly treatable and in many cases avoidable. The key to limiting your bouts with eczema lies in discovering your personal triggers and talking to your dermatologist about different treatment options. At Premier Dermatology Partners, we’re committed to helping our patients find the right solutions for their skin in order to cultivate a healthier, happier lifestyle. To learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today.