Eczema is a skin condition that can affect anyone at any age — including infants. Although there are several specific types of eczema, all have some symptoms in common. It’s not unusual to suffer from two or more types of eczema at the same time. A board-certified New York City dermatologist can talk to you about how to best treat your specific concerns.
If you’re dealing with dry, itchy, red, irritated skin, you may have eczema. You’re not alone: more than 30 million Americans are affected by various types of eczema. It’s one of the most common conditions dermatologists in Manhattan see every year. Common symptoms of eczema include:
- Red, dark or scaly patches of skin
- Itchy or painful patches of skin
- Dry, flaky skin, especially where it’s inflamed
These symptoms can be exacerbated by contact with chemical or other environmental irritants. Food allergies, especially in children, may rarely contribute to the disease. Eczema is thought to be hereditary, caused by a genetic deviation that leads to dry, unprotected skin cells.
The Different Types of Eczema
Several different varieties of eczema exist. Each produces symptoms that affect you in slightly different ways, but all involve skin that dries out. Each has different treatments, too. Always seek medical attention for the best treatment for your case of eczema.
- Atopic dermatitis often appears in childhood and lasts throughout adulthood. When people hear the word “eczema,” this is the condition they often think of. Atopic dermatitis causes skin irritation and discomfort. It can appear anywhere on your skin, but you may see it frequently on your face, neck and limbs. You may find that flare-ups tend to appear in the folds of your elbows and behind your knees. Atopic dermatitis can come and go; it may flare up when you’re stressed or feeling ill. Your diet can also affect this type of eczema.
- Contact dermatitis is the result of coming into contact with an environmental contaminant. It can cause blisters, burning and pain wherever your skin came in contact with the irritant or allergen.
- Hand eczema, which affects as many as one in 10 Manhattan residents, causes dry, itchy, scaly skin on the backs of the hands and fingers. You may notice that your skin becomes so dry that it begins to peel.
- Nummular eczema causes round plaques that usually are extremely itchy. This type of eczema is often the result of irritation caused by insect bites or the dry, cold air of a Manhattan winter.
- Dyshidrotic eczema causes small blisters on the palms of your hands, on the soles of your feet and on your fingers and toes. The blisters are usually itchy, and the skin on your hands or feet may be very dry or even peeling.
- Lichen simplex chronicus, also known as neurodermatitis, causes large patches of scaly, itchy, discolored skin to appear in places like the palms of your hands, soles of your feet and the nape of your neck. Scratching the areas makes the symptoms worse.
- Stasis dermatitis is an issue that goes beyond skin irritation. This type of eczema is caused by poor blood circulation, usually in the lower legs. It can lead to swelling in the lower legs and ankles, red sores, pain, itching, pain and oozing from the sites of the sores.
Quick Facts about Eczema
Eczema is a poorly understood condition that carries a socially negative connotation. As mentioned, its cause is often either environmental or genetic. More facts about eczema include:
- Eczema isn’t contagious. No matter how many hands you shake or how many cab rides you share across Manhattan, you can’t catch it or give it to someone else.
- Eczema can be chronic, recurring off and on throughout your life. It can also be acute, as in the case of contact dermatitis.
- Genetics and environment both play a role in the onset of eczema, although the exact cause is unknown.
- Triggers cause an outbreak of the disease. A trigger creates an immune response within your body, which responds by causing skin irritation. Triggers can be external — such as a food sensitivity or contact with an irritating substance — or internal, such as stress or illness.
- Eczema can affect anyone, from infants to older adults, regardless of gender or race.
- Eczema can cause considerable discomfort, but it can be treated and managed. There’s no reason why you can’t live a normal life if you have eczema.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Getting the right diagnosis is the first step toward treatment. Trying to treat eczema at home, without a medical diagnosis, could prolong your discomfort and possibly make your symptoms worse. If you’re experiencing eczema-like skin symptoms, make an appointment with your Manhattan dermatologist to determine the cause.
Your physician performs a thorough examination of your skin to assess whether any other symptoms are present. If you have underlying medical issues causing your eczema symptoms — such as in the case of stasis dermatitis — your NYC dermatologist works to help you find the appropriate treatment, while addressing your cosmetic and skin care concerns.
Lifestyle Changes May Help
In some cases, lifestyle changes can prevent eczema flare-ups. Your Manhattan dermatologist helps you identify potential triggers, irritants and allergens that cause redness, itching or painful skin. At the same time, prescription skin creams can alleviate the symptoms of some types of eczema.
Work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that’s tailored to your specific skin and health care needs. Your skin deserves the same careful medical attention that you give the rest of your body. It’s not just a cosmetic thing: it’s about your health.
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not a definitive medical advice. Please consult dermatologist NYC about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board certified dermatology doctor or pediatric dermatologist can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
Do you have any questions about Eczema? Would like to schedule an appointment with an internationally recognized, best NYC Dermatologist, Dr. Susan Bard of Manhattan Dermatology Specialists, please contact our Midtown NYC office for consultation with cosmetic dermatologist.
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