Over 30 million Americans suffer from eczema outbreaks. This painful, itchy skin condition can flare up at any time, brought on by any number of triggers. So, what is eczema? What can you do to control the condition?

What is Eczema?

Eczema refers to many different conditions, the most common of which is called atopic dermatitis. Those who experience eczema breakouts will develop painful, itchy rashes on the skin. Most often, these rashes develop on the back of the knees, the face, wrists, hands, and feet, but they can appear anywhere on your body. Rashes can also become dry and scaly.

Unfortunately, no one knows exactly what causes eczema. Because it often appears in people who already suffer from asthma and allergies, it is thought that it is caused by an overactive response by your immune system.

Others experience eczema symptoms in conjunction with some trigger. This could be anything from being too hot to using the wrong brand of body soap. Excess stress is often cited as a trigger, as well as general illness, such as a cold.

Managing Eczema

The primary complaint for those who suffer from eczema is the incessant itching. Scratching destroys the skin barrier and can lead to infection. To mitigate itching, the key is keeping dry, scaly skin moist through the use of lotions.

In some cases, prescription hydrocortisone creams and corticosteroids are recommended to reduce inflammation, which can contribute to the itching and pain often experienced in conjunction with an eczema outbreak.

If symptoms appear along with other allergy symptoms, antihistamines may help.

It’s also very important to avoid situations and activities that may trigger your symptoms. Keeping a record or journal of flare ups and noting what you were doing in the days or hours before symptoms can help you pinpoint what you should avoid.

Nothing, though, can replace the advice of your doctor. Working with a dermatologist can help you find the relief you need.