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Eczema Treatment Advice by a St. Louis Dermatologist

Updated: May 25

Introduction: Understanding Eczema and its Management

At Mid-County Dermatology located at Missouri Baptist Medical Center in St. Louis, Missouri, we understand the challenges that come with eczema, a common skin condition characterized by itchy, red, vesicular, weeping, and crusting patches. Our renowned dermatologist, Dr. Lawrence Feigenbaum, specializes in providing comprehensive eczema treatment to patients in St. Louis and beyond. With his expertise and personalized approach, Dr. Feigenbaum can help you effectively manage your eczema symptoms and achieve healthier skin.

A picture of a leg with crusted, weeping plaque of eczema.
Eczema St. Louis

What is Eczema?

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic and relapsing skin condition that often starts within the first year of life. It is characterized by an intense itch that can lead to a rash due to rubbing and scratching. Many patients with eczema experience thickening of the skin over time. This condition is frequently associated with a family history of asthma and rhinitis, with 35% of infants with atopic dermatitis developing asthma later in life. Patients with eczema are also more prone to skin bacterial and viral infections.

Personalized Treatment for Eczema

At Mid-County Dermatology, we believe that every eczema patient is unique, and therefore requires a customized treatment plan for optimal management. While some individuals with mild eczema may find relief through modifications to their skincare routine and lifestyle changes, others with more severe symptoms may benefit from medication to control their condition. Dr. Feigenbaum takes a comprehensive approach, considering various factors such as the severity of eczema, the patient's medical history, and individual lifestyle factors, to develop an effective treatment plan.

Controlling Triggers and Lifestyle Modifications

Identifying and removing triggers is an essential part of managing atopic dermatitis. Patients can significantly benefit from reducing contact with water, such as taking shorter showers and avoiding frequent hand washing. Additionally, avoiding bleaching agents in clothing and switching to gentle detergents like ALL-Free can help minimize irritation. Proper moisturization plays a crucial role in eczema management. Dr. Feigenbaum recommends using moisturizing creams, such as those containing ceramides, to nourish and hydrate the skin effectively. In more severe cases, topical steroids or immunomodulators like Protopic or Elidel may be prescribed to control symptoms and reduce inflammation.

Dispelling Misconceptions: Is Eczema Contagious?

It's important to address a common misconception regarding eczema. Atopic dermatitis is a hereditary condition caused by a lack of ceramides in the skin, leading to dryness and itching. Eczema is not contagious; it cannot be spread from person to person. Therefore, there is no need to worry about transmitting eczema to your children or colleagues.

Eczema in Children: Understanding its Course

Parents often have concerns about their children's eczema and whether it will improve over time. While most patients do outgrow eczema by the age of 10, the severity of the condition can vary among individuals. Some patients may continue to experience eczema symptoms into adulthood, particularly on their hands, leading to a condition known as hand eczema. Factors such as chronic excessive hand washing can exacerbate hand eczema, causing redness, scaling, fissuring, and intense itching.

The Importance of Moisturization

Moisturization is key to managing eczema symptoms effectively. Dr. Feigenbaum emphasizes the significance of moisturizing the skin to prevent flare-ups. However, not all moisturizers are created equal. Lotions, which contain high water content, can actually irritate the skin further.

Instead, Dr. Feigenbaum recommends using moisturizing creams that have a lower water content. These creams, such as those from reputable brands like Aveeno, Cerave, and Cetaphil, provide deep hydration and nourishment to the skin. For those who prefer a greasier option, Vaseline, petroleum jelly, or Aquaphor can be excellent choices due to their minimal water content. It's important to find a moisturizer that suits your preferences and effectively addresses your eczema symptoms.

Best Practices for Skincare: Daily Habits Matter

In addition to personalized treatment plans and moisturization, adopting certain skincare habits can make a significant difference in managing eczema effectively. Let's explore some key recommendations:

Showering and Bathing

Proper bathing practices can help minimize eczema flare-ups. Dr. Feigenbaum advises his patients to limit showers to once a day (avoiding baths), use lukewarm water instead of hot water, and keep the shower time short, preferably less than 5 minutes. After showering, gently pat your skin dry with a towel and immediately apply a moisturizing cream to lock in moisture and prevent dryness.

The Role of Humidifiers

Maintaining an optimal level of humidity in your living environment is crucial for eczema management. During the winter months when humidity drops, the skin becomes drier, leading to increased eczema symptoms. To counteract this, using a humidifier in your room can help retain moisture in the air, preventing excessive dryness of the skin. While this may not work for everyone, it has proven beneficial for many patients.

Seasonal Considerations

Eczema symptoms can be influenced by seasonal changes. Winter months, with their low humidity levels, tend to be particularly challenging for individuals with eczema. To combat the effects of the dry winter air, it's essential to take proactive measures. This includes maintaining regular showering habits, using lukewarm water, and moisturizing more frequently. By being diligent in your skincare routine, you can help minimize the impact of seasonal changes on your eczema.

Selecting the Right Detergents

The choice of detergent can play a significant role in managing eczema. Our Saint Louis dermatology team advises using detergents specifically formulated for sensitive skin. ALL-Free detergents are highly recommended as they are less likely to trigger eczema flare-ups. Additionally, it's important to avoid bleaching agents and fabric softeners, as they can further irritate the skin in individuals with atopic dermatitis.

Meet Drs. Feigenbaum and Gibstine: St. Louis Dermatologists and Eczema Specialists

At Mid-County Dermatology in Saint Louis, MO, we take pride in our exceptional team, led by Dr. Lawrence Feigenbaum and Dr. Connie Gibstine. With their extensive expertise and dedication to patient care, they are committed to helping individuals overcome the challenges of eczema.

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