WHAT ARE SKIN RASHES?
Rash is the term given to discoloration and inflammation of the skin that changes its appearance. There are different types of skin rashes and the most common types are eczema and allergic contact dermatitis.
WHAT IS ECZEMA?
Eczema is the term given to a number of medical conditions that are characterized by skin irritation and inflammation. Atopic dermatitis is the most common kind of eczema. The disorder is common in childhood. However, adults can have eczema too.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ECZEMA – SKIN RASHES?
It is characterized by red and itchy rashes. Rashes are commonly seen on the face, the inner aspect of the elbows, the back of the knees, and over the neck, chest, feet, and hands. It is common in people who also have asthma.
The affected areas typically look dry or scaly. People with fair skin may see the area to be red initially and then become brown. Eczema can make the skin look darker or lighter in people with darker skin.
Infants with eczema can have an itchy and oozy rash. The rash is usually found on the face and scalp.
WHAT CAUSES ECZEMA?
The exact cause of eczema is unknown. It is believed to be caused by a number of factors including genetics, environment, abnormal response of the body’s immune system, activities that make the skin more sensitive, and problems in the skin barrier that permit bacteria to come in and moisture to go out. It may also be triggered by animal dander, colds, and stress.
HOW IS ECZEMA DIAGNOSED?
By assessing the skin and asking a few of questions, Dr. Matsuda and Dr. Sheu can diagnose eczema and create a treatment plan.
HOW IS ECZEMA TREATED?
- Treating eczema focuses on relieving and preventing itching. Since eczema makes the skin itchy and dry, creams and lotions are used to keep the skin moist. It is recommended to apply creams and lotions after taking a bath when skin is still damp and can retain moisture.
- Inflammation is reduced by using over-the-counter and prescription products like hydrocortisone. Antibiotics are prescribed if the area is infected.
- Itching is lessened by taking antihistamines.
- For more severe or resistent cases, there are other options such as phototherapy and systemic medications.
HOW DO I PREVENT FLARE-UPS FROM MY ECZEMA?
Outbreaks can be avoided or its severity can be reduced by following these tips.
- Moisturize the skin regularly.
- Avoid stress or manage stress effectively.
- Avoid extreme temperature or sudden changes in temperature.
- Avoid using harsh products like soap, shampoo, and detergents.
WHAT IS ALLERGIC CONTACT DERMATITIS?
It is a rash caused by coming into contact with an external substance to which a person is allergic. When the skin touches the substance, the body thinks that it is under attack. It then creates antibodies to fight the attack. As a result, histamine is released causing an itching and a rash occurs.
WHAT TRIGGERS AN ALLERGIC REACTION?
An allergic reaction can be triggered by:
- poison ivy and poison oak
- nickel (metal in jewelry)
- latex rubber
- citrus fruit
- soaps, shampoos, and other beauty products with fragrances
HOW IS DERMATITIS TREATED?
- Avoid touching the substance that caused the rash.
- Wash the skin using mild soap and water immediately after exposure to the substance.
- If there are blisters, a cool compress can be applied.
- Itching can be relieved by taking antihistamines.
- An antihistamine lotion should only be used when it is suggested by the doctor since it may irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction.
WHEN DO I HAVE TO CALL THE DOCTOR ABOUT SKIN RASHES?
Here at the dermatology practice of Drs. Matsuda and Sheu in Honolulu, HI, patients are advised to seek medical attention if the rash does not get better after a few days. The rash is examined and questions are asked to identify the cause. Depending