Isn’t eczema supposed to be for babies? Sadly, eczema, or atopic dermatitis can occur at any age to any person but many adults that develop eczema also had it as children. Generally when adult eczema occurs, it’s called a flare-up. Learning how to prevent flare-ups and to treat the skin when redness occurs is the best way to maintain healthy skin.
Adult dermatitis is basically the same as childhood eczema. Flare-ups can cause dry, itchy skin often found in patches. The skin can become flaky, crack, or even bleed. Unfortunately when you get older, the eruptions can be more pronounced and are caused by a variety of allergens such as detergents, perfumes, pollen, certain foods, and even extreme hot or cold. Most of the time, eczema is found on the arms, legs, neck, cheeks, and even behind the ears.
When a flare-up occurs, treatment is based on the degree of severity. Treatments can include corticosteroid creams and ointments applied directly on the skin until the flare-up is relieved. Often this is alternated with a good moisturizing cream to heal the inflamed areas. This normally takes two to three days. In more severe cases, or when the skin doesn’t respond to the topical treatments, the corticosteroids can be taken orally or even injected into the muscle. This is only a short term solution. Antibiotics and antihistamines can be prescribed to treat adult eczema as well. When the skin is itchy, it impacts sleep patterns and daily functioning.
For mild to moderate adult eczema cases that do not respond to topical treatments, treating with light therapy, or phototherapy is a consideration. Phototherapy involves ultraviolet A or B light being exposed to the skin for a short amount of time. Side effects for long term treatments include skin cancer and premature aging. Natural remedies include the use of flax seed oil internally, bath soaks, applications of nurturing oils and dietary changes.