Eczema is a skin condition characterized by dry, rough, itchy patches of skin, most often seen on hands, neck, legs, and face. Scratching can lead to crusted sores, and should be avoided. Eczema can be itchy and painful, especially during dry or colder months, but there are some things you can do to make living with eczema more tolerable.
Preventing eczema flare ups can sometimes be as simple as moisturizing often enough with a chemical and scent free moisturizer, avoiding triggers (such as certain chemicals, dust mites, or even scented products), and trying to avoid extreme temperatures when you can. Stress can also trigger eczema, so keeping your stress level in check can help you avoid a painful and irritating flare-up.
If eczema does flare up, try to keep the area clean, do not scratch or pick at the rash or any blisters that may form, and apply hydrocortisone cream. Antihistamines (like Benadryl) may help with itching, as will applying an anti-itch medicated cream.
Aside from medications and medicated creams, there are things you can do at home to lessen the symptoms of eczema. Moisturizing is still at the top of the list, since keeping the skin moist is the number one defense against an eczema flare-up.
Itchy eczema rashes can be calmed down by rubbing ice over the affected area to numb the skin and ease itching. Oatmeal is another great way to curb the itching and even help relieve an outbreak and keep it from spreading. Nutmeg, turmeric, coconut oil, spearmint, and almond paste have all proved beneficial to some people suffering from eczema.
While living with eczema is no picnic, there are certain complications that can make it downright deadly. One complication in particular occurs when a virus enters the body through broken skin in an area affected with eczema –most commonly the herpes virus (HSV I), resulting in Eczema herpeticum. This rare but very serious skin disorder presents as clusters of small puss-filled blisters in the area affected by eczema. When scratched, these pustules become weepy and raw. The condition may also be accompanied by a high fever. Eczema herpeticum can occur in anyone who has eczema and comes into contact with a cold sore or genital herpes, and can be fatal in some rare cases. Because of this, people with eczema should never come into contact with a cold sore or genital herpes, and should seek immediate medical care if blisters appear over an eczema rash.