Eczema - atopic dermatitis - help is on its way

Eczema – also known as atopic dermatitis – is so common that teaching about it and its treatments should be a part of our education system. Dermatologists, under the direction of Dr. Sapijaszko at the Youthful Image Edmonton Clinic, are committed to providing top notch eczema care. It is important to understand the causes, exacerbating factors as well as treatments for eczema.  Increased knowledge of these topics will lead to the best possible care for this common, yet troublesome, disease. Edmonton is home to a premier dermatology clinic – the Youthful Image Clinic - and the dermatologists are ready to help.
Treatments for eczema can be broadly categorized into:
A.    Prevention of eczema flares
B.    Skin care and moisturizers
C.    Prescription creams
D.    Oral medications
E.    Phototherapy

A.    Prevention of eczema flares
The key to the treatment of a medical condition is prevention. It is the most important part of any health care, according to Dr. Sapijaszko at the Youthful Image Clinic. Eczema includes a tendency for skin to be dry and sensitive. With this in mind, it is important to avoid anything that can dry out the skin or irritate it. It is recommended to avoid showers or baths that are too hot or too cold. These temperature extremes, particularly hot baths or showers, are well known to remove protective oils from the skin, resulting in dry skin. In addition, scented or strong soaps, gels or shampoos will cause excessive removal of protective skin oils and subsequent irritation of your largest organ. Baths or showers are important for the prevention of eczema flares but ensuring that these common activities are done in a proper way is as important as cleansing itself.

B.    Skin care and moisturizers
OK – you guessed it. Optimal skin care and moisturization are one of the critical components of eczema care. Women and some men wear make-up, daily moisturizer, sunscreen, perfumes, deodorants, hair gels and so on. With all these skin care products, it is no wonder that many eczema patients get in trouble when selecting their skin care products. As a general rule, skin care products need to be gentle, unscented and non-irritating, without strong (even natural) ingredients such as peppermint, camphor, phenol or menthol. In addition, patient should choose oil based moisturizers over water or alcohol based moisturizers.
Wet dressings, where the wet or damped cloths, towels or bandages are applied to moisturized skin, are another successful strategies that can significantly improve the itch and the overall skin quality. These treatments are particularly effective for children as they can better tolerate the application of wet clothes or sheets as well as emollients.
We know that these choices can be confusing and we welcome you to our clinic to educate you about optimal skin care selection.

C.    Prescription creams
Prescription creams are reserved for patients that cannot adequately control their eczema with prevention or good skin care and moisturizers. In these situations, dermatologists can offer a variety of excellent prescription creams. Generally speaking, these can be either steroid (corticosteroid and not muscle building steroid) based or non-steroid based. The choice of the recommended cream or ointment will depend on the severity of the disease, its location, the age of the patient as well as prior response to the therapy. With respect to steroid cream selection, there are many differing options that vary in potency with some being of low potency and others having greater powers. With respect to non-steroid creams, there are currently two options: Tacrolimus and Pimecrolimus. As always, it is important to have a thorough discussion with your dermatologist about the appropriate treatment option for you.

D.    Oral medication
When topical creams, lotions, emollients or ointments do not provide sufficient relief from the nagging itch or pain from atopic dermatitis, there may be a need for oral medications. There are several options in the oral treatments for atopic dermatitis and these include medications such as methotrexate, cyclosporine A, azothiaprne, antihistamines (for itch), antibiotics (for skin infections), a new drug class of biologics as well as some new promising oral medications.
The field of atopic dermatitis research is expanding very rapidly and there are many very exciting new molecules that are hoped to enhance our ability to treat this annoying skin condition.

E.    Phototherapy
Phototherapy is an effective treatment for resistant atopic dermatitis that needs to be performed under the supervision of a dermatologist that is familiar with this technology. Such treatments are reserved for patients who did not respond to the topical or oral medications adequately.

The above information is publicly available from multiple library and scientific community sources and is intended for general information only. It does not replace a visit and a discussion with your family doctor or a dermatologist.

Dr. Sapijaszko and his team are conducting studies to help people with eczema (atopic dermatitis). If you are interested in participating, please contact us at 780-424-4440 ext. 3 or email us.

Youthful Image

 The information provided on this website is for Canadian patients only and is meant for information and education that is based on experience and research.

 

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