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Trash the rash

"Eczema treatment plans"
By: Risa Caldoza-De Leon MD, FPAPSHPITrash the rash

The first documented eczema treatments were in the papyri of those wise Egyptians. Eczema of the head was treated by a lotion of durrameal wrapped in soft fat, and application of fish oil and abra oil. If persistent, then the head was smeared daily with breadmeal and dressed with rotted cereals. Ugh!

We have come a long way from the rotten food treatment. Now, protect and repair are the two buzzwords in eczema care.

  • Gentle cleansing and exfoliation are needed for moisturizers to penetrate the dry sky. Moisturizers should be free of alcohol, scents, dyes, fragrances, and a lot of other skin-irritating chemicals. Look for the ingredient Lactic acid that should be a safe bet. Studies show encouraging results with use of emollients together with avoiding use of soap.
  • Topical corticosteroid creams or ointments that come in various strengths are usually applied to the rash to calm the inflammation. Using high-strength topical steroids for long period of time, especially on the face has side effects, including thinning of the skin. In severe eczema, your doctor may prescribe a short course of oral corticosteroids. Careful medical supervision is needed.
  • A new class of drugs, called immunomodulators, such as tacrolimus and pimecrolimus work well for severe AD and keep your immune system from overreacting when stimulated by an allergen.
  • You are what you think! There is a psychological basis to eczema. Eczema can flare up when you are under stress. Stress busting techniques like aromatherapy and massages together with skin treatments are found to lower stress hormones and curb inflammation.

Eczema can flare up when you are under stress.

  • Avoid scratching your skin … yes, easier said than done, but your skin care physician can give you an antihistamine pill to help with the dreaded itch. The steroids and moisturizer will relieve the itch too. Infection may set it when the skin breaks from scratching. When washing or bathing, lukewarm short baths are the best! Do not scrub or dry the skin too hard or for too long.
  • Phototherapy or light therapy can be of help for mild to mild to moderate dermatitis. It involves regular exposure to ultraviolet A or B waves, alone or combined. Some require up to 30 sessions. Numerous studies show that when a pregnant mom eats a lot of fish, the risk of developing AD in infants is lower.
  • For the purveyors of everything natural, our local Department of Health endorses two medical plants for eczema among others: Akapulko and Tsaang gubat, both of which juices are applied topically on affected skin twice a day until cured.
  • Avoid trigger factors! Studies show that a quarter of kids with eczema get them from allergies to food such as egg white, dairy and milk products, and citrus fruits. A child can have a flare-up after exposure to dust mites and animal dander, so clean away! Cloths like wool and synthetic fabrics can trigger an episode so use cotton as much as possible. Watch out for industrial chemicals, fumes, cigarette smoke, paints, and alcohol-containing skin care products, which may cause an allergic reaction.

As with any other disease, your doctor knows best, so consult his/her first and never self-medicate! We usually make a treatment plan based on patient’s age, symptoms and current state of health.

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