Eczema

Eczema is a skin disease. The first sign of eczema tends to be patches of dry or red, itchy skin. Scratching the skin damages its surface and can worsen the rash.

Sometimes, eczema is called atopic dermatitis. It usually begins very early in life. It is common in infants and young children, and most people who get eczema will have it before they turn five years old. It is rare for eczema to appear for the first time as an adult.

Eczema tends to come and go, often without warning. A treatment plan that includes skin care can reduce flare–ups and ease much of the discomfort.

What causes Eczema?

No one knows for sure what causes eczema. Dermatologists and other scientists are studying possible causes. We do know that eczema is not contagious. This means that your child did not catch eczema from anyone and cannot give it to anyone.

Scientists also know that a child is more likely to get eczema, asthma, or hay fever. This means that genes may play a role in causing eczema. Other factors that seem to contribute to a child developing eczema are living in an urban area and / or living in a cold or dry climate.

How can I tell if my child has Eczema?

If your child has eczema, you will see dry, scaly or red patches on your child’s skin. In infants, these patches often appear on the scalp, forehead, and cheeks. Patches are especially common on an infant’s cheeks. Eczema is itchy, so you may see your baby rubbing against bedding or carpeting to relieve the itch.

When eczema begins between two years of age and puberty, the child has dry, scaly patches in the creases of the elbows or knees. Other common places for the patches to appear are the neck, wrists, ankles, and the crease between the buttocks and legs. No matter where the dry, scaly patches appear they tend to be very itchy. The skin will look inflamed and sore.

Patches of eczema can crack, leak clear fluid, and crust. Infections can develop it germs enter the body through broken skin. Repeatedly scratching the itchy patches can cause the skin to look and feel leathery. For some people, sweating can lead to flare-ups.

If you suspect that your child has eczema, you should see a board-certified dermatologist. Many skin diseases cause a rash. An accurate diagnosis is important.

How is Eczema diagnosed?

A dermatologist can often diagnose eczema by looking at the child’s skin. The dermatologist will look closely at the dry, scaly patches and/or rash. Your dermatologist also may ask some questions, such as when the dry, scaly patches first appeared and whether any close blood relatives have eczema, hay fever, or asthma. This is often all that is necessary to diagnose eczema.

If allergy testing is necessary, your doctor will tell you.

How long will my child have Eczema?

For many children, eczema goes away with time. Some children no longer have eczema by the age of two. About half the children who get eczema, however, will have eczema as an adult. In adults, eczema may be mild.

There is no way to know whether the eczema will go away or become a lifelong disease. Early treatment can prevent the eczema from getting worse. The more severe eczema becomes, the more difficult it can be to treat.

How is Eczema treated?

A dermatologist will create a treatment plan tailored to the patient’s needs.

Most treatment plans consist of:

• Skin care
• Medical therapies
• Tips to avoid flare-ups

It is important to follow the treatment plan prescribed by your dermatologist. Too often, people try to treat eczema on their own by avoiding what they believe is causing the eczema. The truth is no one thing can control eczema. Successfully managing this condition requires following a treatment plan.

Eczema is a skin disease. The first sign of eczema tends to be patches of dry or red, itchy skin. Scratching the skin damages its surface and can worsen the rash.

Sometimes, eczema is called atopic dermatitis. It usually begins very early in life. It is common in infants and young children, and most people who get eczema will have it before they turn five years old. It is rare for eczema to appear for the first time as an adult.

Eczema tends to come and go, often without warning. A treatment plan that includes skin care can reduce flare–ups and ease much of the discomfort.

What causes Eczema?

No one knows for sure what causes eczema. Dermatologists and other scientists are studying possible causes. We do know that eczema is not contagious. This means that your child did not catch eczema from anyone and cannot give it to anyone.

Scientists also know that a child is more likely to get eczema, asthma, or hay fever. This means that genes may play a role in causing eczema.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis (sore-EYE-ah-sis) is a chronic (long-lasting) disease. It develops when a person’s immune system sends faulty signals that tell skin cells to grow too quickly. New skin cells form in days rather than weeks.

The body does not shed these excess skin cells. The skin cells pile up on the surface of the skin, causing patches of psoriasis to appear.

Psoriasis may look contagious, but it's not. You cannot get psoriasis from touching someone who has it. To get psoriasis, a person must inherit the genes that cause it.

Who gets Psoriasis?

People who get psoriasis usually have one or more person in their family who has psoriasis. Not everyone who has a family member with psoriasis will get psoriasis. But psoriasis is common.

Psoriasis can begin at any age. Most people get psoriasis between 15 and 30 years of age.. Another common time for psoriasis to begin is between 50 and 60 years of age.

Whites get psoriasis more often than other races.

Infants and young children are more likely to get inverse psoriasis and guttate psoriasis.

What causes Psoriasis?

Scientists are still trying to learn everything that happens inside the body to cause psoriasis. We know that psoriasis is not contagious. You cannot get psoriasis from swimming in the same pool or having sex.

Scientists have learned that a person’s immune system and genes play important roles. It seems that many genes must interact to cause psoriasis.

Scientists also know that not everyone who inherits the genes for psoriasis will get psoriasis. It seems that a person must inherit the “right” mix of genes. Then the person must be exposed to a trigger.

Many people say that their psoriasis began after they experienced one of these common psoriasis triggers:

• A stressful event.
• Strep throat.
• Taking certain medicines, such as lithium, or medicine to prevent malaria.
• Cold, dry weather.
• A cut, scratch, or bad sunburn.

Types of Psoriasis

Some people get more than one type. Sometimes a person gets one type of psoriasis, and then the type of psoriasis changes.

What you see and feel depends on the type of psoriasis you have. You may have just a few of the signs and symptoms listed below, or you may have many.

Plaque psoriasis (also called psoriasis vulgaris):

• Raised, reddish patches on the skin called plaque (plak).
• Patches may be covered with a silvery-white coating, which dermatologists call scale.
• Patches can appear anywhere on the skin.
• Most patches appear on the knees, elbows, lower back, and scalp.
• Patches can itch.
• Scratching the itchy patches often causes the patches to thicken.
• Patches vary in size and can appear as separate patches or join together to cover a large area.
• Nail problems — pits in the nails, crumbling nail, nail falls off.

Guttate psoriasis:

• Small, red spots (usually on the trunk, arms, and legs but can appear on the scalp, face, and ears).
• Spots can show up all over the skin.
• Spots often appear after an illness, especially strep throat.
• Spots may clear up in a few weeks or months without treatment.
• Spots may appear where the person had plaque psoriasis.

Pustular psoriasis:

• Skin red, swollen, and dotted with pus-filled bumps.
• Bumps usually appear only on the palms and soles.
• Soreness and pain where the bumps appear.
• Pus-filled bumps will dry, and leave behind brown dots and/or scale on the skin. When pus-filled bumps cover the body, the person also may have - bright-red skin, feeling of being sick and exhausted, fever, chills, severe itching, rapid pulse, loss of appetite, muscle weakness.

Inverse psoriasis (also called flexural psoriasis or intertriginous psoriasis):

• Smooth, red patches of skin that look raw.
• Patches only develop where skin touches skin, such as the armpits, around the groin, genitals, and buttocks. Women can develop a red, raw patch under their breasts.
• Skin feels very sore where inverse psoriasis appears.

Erythrodermic psoriasis (also called exfoliative psoriasis):

• Skin looks like it is burned.
• Most (or all) of the skin on the body turns bright red.
• Body cannot maintain its normal temperature of 98.6° F. Person gets very hot or very cold.
• Heart beats too fast.
• Intense itching.
• Intense pain.

If it looks like a person has erythrodermic psoriasis, get the person to a hospital right away. The person’s life may be in danger.

How does a dermatologist diagnose Psoriasis?

To diagnose psoriasis, a dermatologist:

• Examines a patient’s skin, nails, and scalp for signs of psoriasis.
• Asks whether family members have psoriasis.
• Learns about what has been happening in the patient’s life. A dermatologist may want to know whether a patient has been under a lot of stress, had a recent illness, or just started taking a medicine.

Sometimes a dermatologist also removes a bit of skin. A dermatologist may call this confirming the diagnosis. By looking at the removed skin under a microscope, one can confirm whether a person has psoriasis.

How do dermatologists treat Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic (long-lasting) disease of the immune system. It cannot be cured. This means that most people have psoriasis for life. By teaming up with a dermatologist who treats psoriasis, you can find a treatment plan that works for you.

Dermatologists encourage their patients who have psoriasis to take an active role in managing this disease. By taking an active role, you can reduce the effects that psoriasis has on your quality of life.

Treating psoriasis has benefits. Treatment can reduce signs and symptoms of psoriasis, which usually makes a person feel better. With treatment, some people see their skin completely clear. Treatment can even improve a person's quality of life.

Thanks to ongoing research, there are many treatments for psoriasis. It is important to work with a dermatologist to find treatment that works for you and fits your lifestyle. Every treatment has benefits, drawbacks, and possible side effects.

Tips for managing

Psoriasis is a long-lasting disease. Here are some things you can do that will help you take control.

Learn about psoriasis. Knowledge really is power. Learning about psoriasis will help you manage the disease, make informed decisions about how you treat psoriasis, and avoid things that can make psoriasis worse. It will also help you talk about psoriasis with others.

Take good care of yourself. Eating a healthy diet, exercising, not smoking, and drinking very little alcohol will help. Smoking, drinking, and being overweight make psoriasis worse. These also can make treatment less effective. People who have psoriasis also have an increased risk for developing heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases, so taking good care of yourself is essential.

Be aware of your joints. If your joints feel stiff and sore, especially when you wake up, see a dermatologist. Stiff or sore joints can be the first sign of psoriatic (sore-EE-at-ic) arthritis. About 10% to 30% of people who have psoriasis get this type of arthritis. Treatment is essential. This type of arthritis can eat away the joints. Treatment can prevent deformed joints and disability.

Notice your nails. If your nails begin to pull away from the nail bed or develop pitting, ridges, or a yellowish-orange color, see a dermatologist. These are signs of psoriatic arthritis.

Pay attention to your mood. If you feel depressed, you may want to join a psoriasis support group or see a mental health professional. Depression, anxiety, and suicidal behavior are more common in people who have psoriasis. Getting help is not a sign of weakness.

Learn about treatment for psoriasis. Some people choose not to treat psoriasis, but it is important to know your options. This will help you make an informed decision and feel in control.

Talk with your dermatologist before you stop taking medicine for psoriasis. Immediately stopping a medicine for psoriasis can have serious consequences. It can cause one type of psoriasis to turn into another, more serious type of psoriasis. Let’s say a person who has plaque psoriasis takes a medicine called methotrexate. If the person just stops taking methotrexate, this can cause the plaque psoriasis to turn into guttate psoriasis or erythrodermic psoriasis. This can be very serious.

x