What You Should Know about Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis

A few days before we went to Bohol, which was more than a month ago, I noticed something different about my left foot. It was extremely dry and slightly discolored. I also felt a bit of pain, but it wasn’t constant. Thinking that it was a bone problem, I immediately went to see a bone doctor referred by my son’s pediatrician. When I showed the doctor my left foot, he said that what I had wasn’t a bone problem but a skin problem, so he advised me to see a dermatologist. The next day would be our flight to Bohol, and because I had no more time to to visit a dermatologist’s clinic, I had no other option but to go to the skin clinic with a resident dermatologist at Robinsons Galleria. I ended up consulting with a cosmetic dermatologist.

The male cosmetic dermatologist said that what I had was nummular eczematous dermatitis, and he prescribed hydrocortisone lotion and a topical corticosteroid and keratolytic agent (to remove scaling). He said I should apply both to the affected area twice a day. However, after two weeks of applying these medications, my left foot hasn’t healed completely, so I decided to go to my son’s dermatologist at Makati Medical Center to get a second opinion.

Photo courtesy of www.health-res.com

First, my left foot underwent ultraviolet light treatment and then I was given a more potent skin medication, which is Clobetasol Cream, that I should apply to the affected area twice a day. She also advised me to use Dove Extrasensitive Soap and to avoid wearing perfume and applying scented lotion on my skin for the time being. She said what I had was atopic dermatitis or eczema. Because I had enough medication for my skin condition, she advised me to come back after a month. She also gave me a leaflet to know more about atopic dermatitis. The following are excerpts from her leaflet:

What Is Dermatitis?

Dermatitis is a skin condition that can cause your skin to become dry, irritated, flamed or red, and itchy. Atopic dermatitis is often referred to as eczema. Atopic dermatitis is related to asthma, allergic rhinitis and skin rash.

What are the factors that can make atopic dermatitis worse?

Certain allergens, irritants and stress can worsen or trigger atopic dermatitis. Those afflicted with this skin condition should do the following:

• Avoid irritating substances, such as harsh detergents, scented fabric softener and bleaching components, and insecticides.
• Never use alcohol on the skin because it dries up the skin more and makes it very irritated.
• Remove environmental allergens, such as dust and pet hair. Keep the temperature cool and the air moist.
• Do not use powders, fragranced soaps, lotion and perfume.
• Do not scratch. Scratching makes it more itchy.

What are some ways to manage atopic dermatitis?

Gentle cleansing and moisturizing are needed to avoid further drying and irritation of your skin. To help your skin return to its normal appearance, you should do the following:

• Use a mild soap that is fragrance-free.
• Avoid scrubbing your skin with wash cloths, sponge or anything else that is abrasive.
• Do not bathe or shower too long and use warm/tap water and not very hot or very cold water.
• Pat skin dry after bathing or showering and apply non-irritating, fragrance-free moisturizer to trap in moisture.
• You may reapply moisturizer as needed during the day, preferably after lightly wetting the skin.

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