Skin inflammation is a common problem for many men, women, and children of all ages. Typically, dermatitis, also known as eczema, is the culprit, causing the skin to become red and irritated and sometimes even blistered and cracked.
Estimates show that more than 31 million people in the U.S. have some form of eczema or dermatitis, including 10-20% of all infants in the U.S. and around 3% of all adults and children.
“Sometimes dermatitis runs in families, but it can also be the result of an allergic reaction, an overactive immune system or another underlying health condition,” says Dr. Hans Sander of U.S. Dermatology Partners Jollyville. “Other times, extreme temperatures or even stress can trigger an outbreak.”
The exact causes of dermatitis are unknown, but there are some things you can do to lessen the severity of your symptoms. Next time your skin feels itchy, scaly, red and cracked, try one of these five ways to soothe your skin inflammation:
#1: Use a mild, moisturizing soap.
Harsh soaps and beauty products with a lot of complex fragrances and additives can irritate your skin. Often, skin irritation is worsened by using the wrong types — and too many — products. Most common bar soaps contain harsh detergents that can cause problems for sensitive skin. The best way to soothe inflamed skin is to keep your daily routine simple: use a mild facial cleanser and body wash designed for sensitive skin that has a fragrance-free moisturizer built in.
#2: Stay away from hot water.
Though it may sound counter-intuitive, water actually dries out your skin. As it evaporates, water strips the skin of its natural oils. One way to combat this is to use warm instead of hot water. Hot water can cause your skin to dry out even faster, which can lead it to become even more inflamed. Use warm water in the shower and when you wash your face, and try to limit the length of time you stay in the shower.
#3: Find a good moisturizer.
Choose a good, thick moisturizer or crème that adds moisture to your skin, and apply it several times per day to help your skin stay hydrated. If your symptoms are persistent or severe, your dermatologist may recommend a topical corticosteroid or prescription ointment and an oral steroid. In the most severe cases of dermatitis, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic and oral antihistamine if an additional skin infection is suspected.
#4: Apply moisturizer immediately after bathing.
Keeping your skin hydrated is the best way to soothe skin inflammation. As soon as you get out of the shower or tub, blot yourself dry (don’t rub) and immediately apply a moisturizer to your whole body —especially areas that are inflamed — to lock in the moisture.
“Bathing at night and applying moisturizer right before bed gives products an even better opportunity to be completely absorbed into the skin,” says Dr. Sander. “If your hands are inflamed, you can apply a thick cream moisturizer and wear pure cotton gloves to bed to help keep your hands hydrated.”
#5: Try a humidifier.
While too much exposure to water on the skin can have a drying effect, moisture in the air is a good thing when it comes to soothing inflammation. During the winter months, the air outside is cold and dry, while the indoor heaters are blazing. This extreme back and forth of temperatures can cause the skin to become extremely dry.
Using a humidifier is an easy way to replace moisture in the indoor air and protect your skin from the harsh elements. Ideally, inside humidity should be 45-55%.
Another way to avoid irritating your skin is to stay away from wearing scratchy fabrics. Also, try changing your laundry detergent to a formula specifically created for sensitive skin. Sometimes, dermatitis can even be triggered by jewelry containing just trace amounts of nickel.
“And, no matter how badly it itches, don’t scratch your skin,” says Hans Sander, MD. “Scratching inflamed skin with your fingernails can cause the skin to break and spread infection, which will ultimately delay the healing process and can lead to more inflammation.”
Skin inflammation is a common problem that can affect a small or large area of the body. It can occur in a random outbreak, or it can become a recurrent problem. The best way to soothe your inflamed skin is to remove as many irritants as possible from your environment and your daily routine and take good care of your ailing skin.
“If your skin is persistently inflamed, talk to your dermatologist,” says Hans Sander, MD. “Many times, the cause of the inflammation is unknown, and there is no simple cure. However, there are many available treatment options to soothe your skin and make it look and feel much better.”
Looking to Visit a Dermatologist?
To learn more about how to prevent and treat eczema and other forms of dermatitis, contact our doctors at U.S. Dermatology Partners today. We have multiple locations throughout the country, so fill out our simple online form to get in touch with us. One of our local team members will reach out to you shortly to answer your questions or schedule an appointment for you to visit us soon.
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