Itchy skin is always annoying, but is it eczema or something else? Identifying the signs of eczema will determine the course of treatment for your condition and let you know if you need to see a dermatologist or if an over the counter remedy will do. Here is how to identify the signs of eczema versus psoriasis, dermatitis, or other itchy skin conditions.
Eczema will usually present on any part of the skin with the following symptoms:
- Skin that is chronically itchy for no apparent reason
- Unusually dry skin in the itchy area
- Thickened skin in the itchy area
- Scaly skin in the itchy area
- Open sores with crusts that develop on the affected area if the skin there is scratched
Eczema can occur anywhere on the body. However, it is most commonly found on the hands, legs, face, and neck on adults. It shows up most commonly on the inner elbows and knees on children, where the skin is normally very soft.
Eczema is different from psoriasis in that psoriasis is a chronic condition that causes reddening, thickening, and flaking of the skin on most areas of the body. It is different from dermatitis in that this condition usually just causes intense itching, sometimes with hives or tiny red raised bumps if the dermatitis is allergic in nature (there are both allergic and non-allergic dermatitis).
Treatment for Eczema
Eczema is usually treated with cortisone cream to relieve the itching, moisturizers to relieve the dryness, and cold compresses to relieve the discomfort. If these treatments do not work or don’t work well, dermatologists can prescribe antibiotics, antihistamines, and photo-therapy (laser light therapy) to give more intense relief to the sufferer.
If these treatments don’t work, there are two immunomodulating drugs available on the market that dermatologists can prescribe. These are Elidel and Protopic. These drugs lower your body’s immune response so that it won’t keep sending immune cells to attack your itchy patch of skin.
There are potential side effects to these drugs, though, such as an increased risk of cancer due to lowering the body’s immunity. That is why these drugs are recommended only for people over the age of 12 who have not responded to any other eczema treatment.