Alternative Therapy for Eczema / Atopic Dermatitis Orlando
Dermatitis simply means inflammation of the skin. “Atopic” refers to diseases that are hereditary, usually run in families, and often occur together. In atopic dermatitis, the skin becomes extremely itchy and inflamed, leading to redness, swelling, cracking, weeping, crusting, and scaling. Dry skin is a very common complaint and an underlying cause of some of the typical rash symptoms.
Although atopic dermatitis can occur in any age, it most often affects infants and young children. In some situations, it may occur in adulthood or actually just show up later in life. A large number of patients tend to have a chronic course with various ups and downs. In most cases, there are periods of time when the disease is worse, called exacerbations or flares, which are followed by periods when the skin improves or clears up entirely, called remissions. Many children with atopic dermatitis enter into a permanent remission of the disease when they get older, although their skin may remain somewhat dry and easily irritated.
Multiple factors can trigger or worsen atopic dermatitis, including dry skin, seasonal allergies, exposure to harsh soaps and detergents, new skin products or creams, and cold weather. Environmental factors can activate symptoms of atopic dermatitis at any time in the lives of individuals who have inherited the atopic disease trait.
Eczema is used as a general term for many types of skin inflammation (dermatitis) and allergic-type skin rashes. There are different types of eczema, like allergic, contact, irritant, and nummular eczema. Several other forms have very similar symptoms. The diverse types of eczema are listed and briefly described below. Atopic dermatitis is typically a more specific set of three associated conditions occurring in the same person including eczema, allergies, and asthma. Not every component has to be present at the same time, but usually these patients are prone to all of these three related conditions.
Types of eczema
Contact Dermatitis: a localized reaction that includes redness, itching, and burning where the skin has come into contact with an allergen (an allergy-causing substance) or with an irritant such as an irritating chemical, a cleaning agent, or other pathogen.
Allergic contact eczema: a red, itchy, weepy reaction where the skin has come into contact with a substance that the immune system recognizes as foreign, such as poison ivy or certain preservatives in creams and lotions like Neosporin or Bacitracin
Seborrheic eczema (also called seborrheic dermatitis or seborrhea): is a very common form of mild skin inflammation of unknown cause that presents as yellowish, oily, scaly patches of skin on the scalp, face, ears, and occasionally other parts of the body. Often this is also called dandruff in adults or “cradle cap” in infants.
Nummular eczema: coin-shaped (round), isolated patches of irritated skin, most commonly on the arms, back, buttocks, and lower legs that may be crusted, scaling, and extremely itchy.
Neurodermatitis: a very particular type of dermatitis where the person frequently picks at their skin, causing rashes. The underling cause may be a sensitivity or irritation which sets off a cascade of repeated itching and scratching cycles. It may be seen as scratch marks and pick marks on the skin. Sometimes scaly patches of skin on the head, lower legs, wrists, or forearms caused by a localized itch, like an insect bite may become intensely irritated when scratched.
Stasis dermatitis: a skin irritation on the lower legs, generally related to circulatory problems and congestion of the leg veins. It may have a darker pigmentation, light-brown, or purplish-red discoloration from the congestion and back up of the blood in the leg veins. It’s sometimes seen more in legs with varicose veins.
Dyshidrotic eczema: irritation of the skin on the palms of hands and less commonly on soles of the feet characterized by clear, very deep-seated blisters that itch and burn. It’s sometimes described as a “tapioca pudding” like rash on the palms.
The cause of atopic dermatitis is not known, but the disease seems to result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There seems to be a basic hypersensitivity and an increased tendency toward itching. Evidence suggests that the disease is associated with other so-called atopic disorders such as hay fever (seasonal allergies) and asthma, which many people with atopic dermatitis also have. In addition, many children who outgrow the symptoms of atopic dermatitis go on to develop hay fever or asthma. Although one disorder does not necessarily cause another, they can be related.
While emotional factors and stress may in some cases exacerbate or initiate the condition, they do not seem to be a primary or underlying cause for the disorder. In the past, there was some thought that perhaps atopic dermatitis was entirely caused by an emotional disorder.
Atopic dermatitis itself is not contagious and it cannot be passed from one person to another through skin contact. There is generally no cause for concern in being around someone with even an active case of atopic dermatitis, unless they have active skin infections.
Some patients with atopic dermatitis get secondary infections of their skin with Staphylococcus “staph,” other bacteria, herpes virus (cold sores), and less commonly yeasts and other fungal infections. These infections may be contagious through skin contact.
Although symptoms may vary from person to person, the most common symptoms are dry, itchy, red skin. Itch is the primary factor of the disease. Affected skin areas include the folds of the arms, the back of the knees, wrists, face, and hands. Less commonly there may be cracks behind the ears, and various other rashes on any part of the body.
The itchy feeling is an important factor in atopic dermatitis, because scratching and rubbing in response to itching worsen the skin inflammation that is characteristic of this disease. People with atopic dermatitis seem to be more sensitive to itching and feel the need to scratch longer in response. The extreme itchiness of the skin causes the person to scratch, which in turn worsens the itch, and so on. Itching is particularly a problem during sleep, when conscious control of scratching decreases and the absence of other outside stimuli makes the itchiness more noticeable. Many patients also notice worsening of their itch in the early evening when there are less external stimuli to keep them occupied. When things at home sort of quiet down, the itching seems to become more noticeable.
How atopic dermatitis affects the skin can be changed by patterns of scratching and resulting skin infections. Some people with the disease develop red, scaling skin where the immune system in the skin becomes very activated. Others develop thick and leathery skin as a result of constant scratching and rubbing. This condition is called lichenification. Still others develop papules, or small raised bumps, on their skin. When the papules are scratched, they may open and become crusty and infected.
Factors that can trigger a reaction are milk, eggs, peanuts, soybeans, fish, wheat, allergies, pollen, pregnancy, menstruation, thyroid imbalance, dry cold weather, sweating, and emotional stress.
The patient and family members play a large role in the success of the treatment plan by carefully following the doctor’s instructions. Some of the primary components of treatment programs are described below. Most patients can be successfully managed with proper skin care and lifestyle changes and do not require the more intensive treatments discussed. Much of the improvement comes from homework, including lubricating generously especially right after showers or baths.
There are three main goals in treating atopic dermatitis, healing the skin and keeping it healthy, preventing flares, and treating symptoms when they occur. Caring for the skin involves following good skin care routines, identifying exacerbating factors, and avoiding circumstances that stimulate the skin’s immune system and the itch-scratch cycle. It is important for the patient to note any changes in skin condition in response to treatment and to be persistent in identifying the most effective treatment strategy.
A skin care simple and basic regimen is key. Staying with one recommended soap and one moisturizer is very important. Using multiple soaps, lotions, fragrances, and mixes of products may cause further issues and skin sensitivity.
Healing the skin and keeping it healthy are of primary importance both in preventing further damage and enhancing the patient’s quality of life. Developing and following a daily skin care routine is critical to preventing recurrent episodes of symptoms. Key factors are proper bathing and the application of lubricants, such as creams or ointments, within three minutes of bathing. People with atopic dermatitis should avoid hot or long (more than 10 to 15 minutes) baths and showers. A lukewarm bath helps to cleanse and moisturize the skin without drying it excessively. The doctor may recommend limited use of a mild bar soap or non-soap cleanser because soaps can be drying to the skin.
Lubrication restores the skin’s moisture, increases the rate of healing, and establishes a barrier against further drying and irritation. Several kinds of lubricants can be used. Lotions generally are not the best choice because they have a high water or alcohol content and evaporate quickly. Creams and ointments work better at healing the skin. Tar preparations can be very helpful in healing very dry, lichenified areas. Whatever preparation is chosen, it should be as free of fragrances and chemicals as possible.
Another key to protecting and restoring the skin is taking steps to avoid repeated skin infections. Although it may not be possible to avoid infections altogether, the effects of an infection may be minimized if they are identified and treated early. Patients learn to recognize the signs of skin infections, including tiny pustules (pus-filled bumps) on the arms and legs, appearance of oozing areas, or crusty yellow blisters.
If you have a skin condition and want to see if alternative therapy can be helpful call Four Seasons Acupuncture today for a complimentary consultation. We provide service for the residents of Orlando, Winter Park, Maitland, Altamonte Springs, Longwood. Call today 321-662-4871.
Located at the corner of 17-92 and Horatio in Maitland.