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Grand Rapids Allergy


Itching for Relief: The Fight Against Eczema

Posted on December 11, 2017

Though the weather outside is frightful, one of the coziest feelings in the wintertime is to step from the cold outdoors into a warm, heated house. This heat, however, can have its drawbacks. For many of you, it will cause dry, itchy skin. If you suffer from eczema, this feeling is nothing new and may be accelerated by the dry air in a heated room.

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic condition in which skin becomes so dry that it may crack, ooze, and bleed.

Try not to picture it. Just continue reading.

The largest organ your body has is your skin. Your skin is important to your health because it is your body’s first line of defense against foreign invaders, from larger problems such as bugs and the corner of the coffee table to the microscopic problems such as microbes, irritants, allergens, and pollutants. In order for your skin to stay pliable and protect you, it needs to be able to retain moisture. There are many important cells that make up this skin barrier, and if you have eczema, you may be missing many of the necessary proteins. This makes your skin weak, and that makes it hard to keep out microscopic invaders or hold in moisture. This results in flaky skin, which results in more sensitive nerve fibers, which results in severe, “intractable,” itchy skin. The more your skin itches, the more likely you are to scratch. The more you scratch, the weaker your skin becomes and the more likely your skin is to crack and bleed. For eczema sufferers, it becomes a vicious cycle and may affect lives.

It sounds awful, doesn’t it? Fret not, because there are ways to combat this condition. The main tip is, as an eczema sufferer, you should avoid scratching as much as possible to slow down the vicious cycle of damaging skin. For ways to help relieve your itching and cracking skin, try some of the following methods:

  • Bathe daily in plain, warm (not hot) water to hydrate the skin. Pat dry afterwards and follow immediately (within 2-3 minutes) with a generous application of thick, heavy cream or ointment. If you wait too long between the bath and the cream application your skin will lose its hydration. The cream and ointment seal the moisture in. If you are short on time, simply soak with a wet towel before application.
  • Try wet wrap therapy for your skin after your plain water bath as often as needed. After your cream application, moisten skin wraps or clothing in the bath water, wring them out, and wrap them around the treated areas. Cover these wet wraps with a dry outer layer (tube socks, thick cotton clothing such as a sweatshirt). Leave wraps on for two hours, though several hours or overnight is ideal. For more details on this, make an appointment with Grand Rapids Allergy.
  • For serious cases of eczema, consider the potential implications of an allergen trigger. In young infants, eczema may indicate a current or developing food allergy. If your infant has moderate eczema, we encourage discussion with a board-certified allergist, as recent studies suggest food allergies may be prevented in these high-risk babies with early evaluation. An evaluation is recommended before trying a diet change, as food allergies can be life-threatening. While food allergies may affect young children, environmental allergies are more common triggers for older children or adults.
  • Antihistamines and oral steroids can be effective. Talk to your doctor or an expert at Grand Rapids Allergy if you think you may need to start medication for you skin condition.
  • If your condition seems to be localized in an area normally covered by clothing, this could be an implication of an allergy to a detergent or material. Consider changing clothing types or laundry detergents to test this.

Your skin is important, and the experts at Grand Rapids allergy are fully aware of this. They are as eager as you are to make sure your skin is up to the task of protecting your body. Talk to Grand Rapids Allergy today so they can help you scratch (or not scratch) that eczema problem! 

Grand Rapids Allergy has served the west Michigan area for over 40 years. We’re working to treat allergies at the root level with personalized treatment plans based on your unique allergy profile.

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