Tag Archives: Atopic dermatitis

Straight, No Chaser: Contact Dermatitis, Diaper Rash, Poison Ivy and the Like

contactderm1

Let’s pick up where we left off. In our discussion of eczema and psoriasis, we described the common theme of underlying inflammation manifesting in rashes of different appearances. The theme continues today, with the difference being overlying inflammation. Contact dermatitis (dermatitis = skin inflammation) results from some external entity becoming a nuisance to your skin and generating a response in the form of a rash. You know this in many different forms (shown in the pictures below) – think about those old nickel coated watches, piercings gone bad (piercings also cause actual infections, which is a different consideration), clothing (below is a picture of contact dermatitis caused by flip-flop slippers), poison ivy and diaper rash. I bet the lead picture, which seems like a brand of a butterfly necklace pendant, as well as the following pictures look familiar to many of you.

contractdermwatch

contactdermearcontact-dermatitis-feet

poison-ivy-rash

diaperrash

These rashes are examples of allergic contact dermatitis. Your immune system is generating a response because it believes it is under attack by whatever has touched you. The way the body defends itself leads to release of various chemicals (most notably histamines) that cause the rash. The reason I picked the illustration of the diaper rash is to remind you that the rash actually is in the distribution of the diaper (not just under it), meaning that it may be the diaper that’s the culprit. In other words, don’t just zone in on feces and urine as the problem.  Allergic contact dermatitis can occur from – well, anything you’re allergic to, but it’s commonly associated with latex, fruit peels (especially citrus), lotions, perfumes and other topical substances applied to the skin.
When we discussed eczema earlier, we were describing irritant contact dermatitis, which occurs because something damages the skin (remember eczema is called “the itch that rashes”). Imagine that you’ve sensitized and damaged your eczematous skin by scratching away at it and then place something irritating on it. That’s what this is. The longer the new irritant stays on the already damaged skin, the worse the inflammation is, and the more violent the rash appears.
So let’s get to the bottom line: the name of the game is avoidance (as in poison ivy, latex or other known irritants), prompt recognition and removal of irritants, and symptomatic treatment. If you come in contact with a substance that burns or rashes immediately, remove the object or get away from it, and then wash the affected area with mild soap and moderate water. Consider oral histamines (e.g. benadryl) and a mild OTC hydrocortisone ointment. If the rash isn’t better within a few days, or if you ever feel short of breath or as if your throat is closing, contact your physician or the local emergency room immediately for evaluation. Unless you have an underlying condition like eczema or psoriasis, contact dermatitis should resolve within 2-4 weeks with this approach to management.
So in closing, remember: it’s not just the more you itch, the more you scratch. It’s also the more you scratch, the more you itch. Break the cycle.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Eczema and Psoriasis

Eczema_causes

Rashes are very frustrating for patients.  They itch, burn, get infected, aren’t pleasant to look at and never go away rapidly enough. Another problem is no one ever seems to know what they are at first, and that causes a big problem because you’re concerned immediately (as you should be) when the rash appears. Unfortunately, in the early stages, most rashes are indistinguishable. In many cases, in order to diagnose them, you’d have to let them evolve and bloom into whatever they’re trying to become, but who has time for that? I remember in medical school, the prevailing wisdom was “If it’s wet, dry it (powder), if it’s dry, wet it (creams, lotions and ointments), and give everybody steroids.” Well, don’t try that at home without your physician’s direction because it’s not universally true, but it sure does seem like hydrocortisone has a lot to do with treating rashes.
Today, I’d like to review two common chronic conditions defined by rashes, and later I’ll do the same with acute presentations of rashes. The thing about eczema and psoriasis is we should know it when we see it, and so should you. By the way, dermatitis is the general term for skin inflammations, and eczema and psoriasis both fall under this category. As such, they have a lot in common, including basic underlying mechanisms (irritation), treatment considerations and a knack at raising frustration levels.

eczemaeczema-2

Eczema (aka atopic dermatitis, which is the most common form of eczema) is a red, dry itchy rash that really is just an inflammatory reaction. If you let it linger, it can become cracked, infected and develop a leather-like consistency. It’s said that you’d develop eczema just by scratching or rubbing your skin long enough, because it’s the damage to the skin that causes the inflammatory reaction that defines eczema. This is why eczema is notoriously called “the itch that rashes”. You’re more likely to have it if you have asthma, have fever or tendencies toward food allergies (or other allergies), but you can get it with pretty much any significant skin irritation. It’s not contagious, but it does run in families.

psoriasisPsoriasis-Classification

Psoriasis is another chronic skin condition that is easily recognized. As noted above, that thick scaly, silvery skin (called plaques) results from an overgrowth of skin cells. As with eczema, this condition is a result of inflammation to the skin, in this instance caused by an overreaction of your immune system speeding up the production of skin cells. Psoriatic lesions are most often seen on the elbows, knees and scalp; it can also involve the back, hands and feet (including the nails). Psoriasis tends to flare-up then go into remission, but during those flare-ups, it is very uncomfortable and unsightly.
These are both ‘dry’ rashes, so treatment involves moisturizers, changing habits to include mild soaps, loose fitting clothing, moderate temperature showers (to avoid drying the skin), and when necessary, antihistamines (like Benadryl) and topical steroid creams (like hydrocortisone). Use any medications after consultation with your physician, who may prescribe more exotic treatments such as medications to calm or suppress the body’s immune response or ultraviolet light therapy. Your job is to identify and avoid the irritants that cause the inflammatory reaction (e.g. sweating, scratching, tight-fitting clothing and anything that dries you out). It’s important for you to get these addressed early before the appearance becomes too bothersome for you.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Contact Dermatitis, Diaper Rash, Poison Ivy and the Like

contactderm1

Let’s pick up where we left off. In our discussion of eczema and psoriasis, we described the common theme of underlying inflammation manifesting in rashes of different appearances. The theme continues today, with the difference being overlying inflammation. Contact dermatitis (dermatitis = skin inflammation) results from some external entity becoming a nuisance to your skin and generating a response in the form of a rash. You know this in many different forms (shown in the pictures below) – think about those old nickel coated watches, piercings gone bad (piercings also cause actual infections, which is a different consideration), clothing (below is a picture of contact dermatitis caused by flip-flop slippers), poison ivy and diaper rash. I bet the lead picture, which seems like a brand of a butterfly necklace pendant, as well as the following pictures look familiar to many of you.

contractdermwatch

contactdermearcontact-dermatitis-feet

poison-ivy-rash

diaperrash

These rashes are examples of allergic contact dermatitis. Your immune system is generating a response because it believes it is under attack by whatever has touched you. The way the body defends itself leads to release of various chemicals (most notably histamines) that cause the rash. The reason I picked the illustration of the diaper rash is to remind you that the rash actually is in the distribution of the diaper (not just under it), meaning that it may be the diaper that’s the culprit. In other words, don’t just zone in on feces and urine as the problem.  Allergic contact dermatitis can occur from – well, anything you’re allergic to, but it’s commonly associated with latex, fruit peels (especially citrus), lotions, perfumes and other topical substances applied to the skin.
When we discussed eczema earlier, we were describing irritant contact dermatitis, which occurs because something damages the skin (remember eczema is called “the itch that rashes”). Imagine that you’ve sensitized and damaged your eczematous skin by scratching away at it and then place something irritating on it. That’s what this is. The longer the new irritant stays on the already damaged skin, the worse the inflammation is, and the more violent the rash appears.
So let’s get to the bottom line: the name of the game is avoidance (as in poison ivy, latex or other known irritants), prompt recognition and removal of irritants, and symptomatic treatment. If you come in contact with a substance that burns or rashes immediately, remove the object or get away from it, and then wash the affected area with mild soap and moderate water. Consider oral histamines (e.g. benadryl) and a mild OTC hydrocortisone ointment. If the rash isn’t better within a few days, or if you ever feel short of breath or as if your throat is closing, contact your physician or the local emergency room immediately for evaluation. Unless you have an underlying condition like eczema or psoriasis, contact dermatitis should resolve within 2-4 weeks with this approach to management.
So in closing, remember: it’s not just the more you itch, the more you scratch. It’s also the more you scratch, the more you itch. Break the cycle.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress
 

Straight, No Chaser: Eczema and Psoriasis

Eczema_causes

Rashes are very frustrating for patients.  They itch, burn, get infected, aren’t pleasant to look at and never go away rapidly enough. Another problem is no one ever seems to know what they are at first, and that causes a big problem because you’re concerned immediately (as you should be) when the rash appears. Unfortunately, in the early stages, most rashes are indistinguishable. In many cases, in order to diagnose them, you’d have to let them evolve and bloom into whatever they’re trying to become, but who has time for that? I remember in medical school, the prevailing wisdom was “If it’s wet, dry it (powder), if it’s dry, wet it (creams, lotions and ointments), and give everybody steroids.” Well, don’t try that at home without your physician’s direction because it’s not universally true, but it sure does seem like hydrocortisone has a lot to do with treating rashes.
Today, I’d like to review two common chronic conditions defined by rashes, and later I’ll do the same with acute presentations of rashes. The thing about eczema and psoriasis is we should know it when we see it, and so should you. By the way, dermatitis is the general term for skin inflammations, and eczema and psoriasis both fall under this category. As such, they have a lot in common, including basic underlying mechanisms (irritation), treatment considerations and a knack at raising frustration levels.

eczemaeczema-2

Eczema (aka atopic dermatitis, which is the most common form of eczema) is a red, dry itchy rash that really is just an inflammatory reaction. If you let it linger, it can become cracked, infected and develop a leather-like consistency. It’s said that you’d develop eczema just by scratching or rubbing your skin long enough, because it’s the damage to the skin that causes the inflammatory reaction that defines eczema. This is why eczema is notoriously called “the itch that rashes”. You’re more likely to have it if you have asthma, have fever or tendencies toward food allergies (or other allergies), but you can get it with pretty much any significant skin irritation. It’s not contagious, but it does run in families.

psoriasisPsoriasis-Classification

Psoriasis is another chronic skin condition that is easily recognized. As noted above, that thick scaly, silvery skin (called plaques) results from an overgrowth of skin cells. As with eczema, this condition is a result of inflammation to the skin, in this instance caused by an overreaction of your immune system speeding up the production of skin cells. Psoriatic lesions are most often seen on the elbows, knees and scalp; it can also involve the back, hands and feet (including the nails). Psoriasis tends to flare-up then go into remission, but during those flare-ups, it is very uncomfortable and unsightly.
These are both ‘dry’ rashes, so treatment involves moisturizers, changing habits to include mild soaps, loose fitting clothing, moderate temperature showers (to avoid drying the skin), and when necessary, antihistamines (like Benadryl) and topical steroid creams (like hydrocortisone). Use any medications after consultation with your physician, who may prescribe more exotic treatments such as medications to calm or suppress the body’s immune response or ultraviolet light therapy. Your job is to identify and avoid the irritants that cause the inflammatory reaction (e.g. sweating, scratching, tight-fitting clothing and anything that dries you out). It’s important for you to get these addressed early before the appearance becomes too bothersome for you.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress
 

Straight, No Chaser: Contact Dermatitis, Diaper Rash, Poison Ivy and the Like

contactderm1

Let’s pick up where we left off. In our discussion of eczema and psoriasis, we described the common theme of underlying inflammation manifesting in rashes of different appearances. The theme continues today, with the difference being overlying inflammation. Contact dermatitis (dermatitis = skin inflammation) results from some external entity becoming a nuisance to your skin and generating a response in the form of a rash. You know this in many different forms (shown in the pictures below) – think about those old nickel coated watches, piercings gone bad (piercings also cause actual infections, which is a different consideration), clothing (below is a picture of contact dermatitis caused by flip-flop slippers), poison ivy and diaper rash. I bet the lead picture, which seems like a brand of a butterfly necklace pendant, as well as the following pictures look familiar to many of you.

contractdermwatch

contactdermearcontact-dermatitis-feet

poison-ivy-rash

diaperrash

These rashes are examples of allergic contact dermatitis. Your immune system is generating a response because it believes it is under attack by whatever has touched you. The way the body defends itself leads to release of various chemicals (most notably histamines) that cause the rash. The reason I picked the illustration of the diaper rash is to remind you that the rash actually is in the distribution of the diaper (not just under it), meaning that it may be the diaper that’s the culprit. In other words, don’t just zone in on feces and urine as the problem.  Allergic contact dermatitis can occur from – well, anything you’re allergic to, but it’s commonly associated with latex, fruit peels (especially citrus), lotions, perfumes and other topical substances applied to the skin.
When we discussed eczema earlier, we were describing irritant contact dermatitis, which occurs because something damages the skin (remember eczema is called “the itch that rashes”). Imagine that you’ve sensitized and damaged your eczematous skin by scratching away at it and then place something irritating on it. That’s what this is. The longer the new irritant stays on the already damaged skin, the worse the inflammation is, and the more violent the rash appears.
So let’s get to the bottom line: the name of the game is avoidance (as in poison ivy, latex or other known irritants), prompt recognition and removal of irritants, and symptomatic treatment. If you come in contact with a substance that burns or rashes immediately, remove the object or get away from it, and then wash the affected area with mild soap and moderate water. Consider oral histamines (e.g. benadryl) and a mild OTC hydrocortisone ointment. If the rash isn’t better within a few days, or if you ever feel short of breath or as if your throat is closing, contact your physician or the local emergency room immediately for evaluation. Unless you have an underlying condition like eczema or psoriasis, contact dermatitis should resolve within 2-4 weeks with this approach to management.
So in closing, remember: it’s not just the more you itch, the more you scratch. It’s also the more you scratch, the more you itch. Break the cycle.
Feel free to ask any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Eczema and Psoriasis

Eczema_causes

Rashes are very frustrating for patients.  They itch, burn, get infected, aren’t pleasant to look at and never go away rapidly enough. Another problem is no one ever seems to know what they are at first, and that causes a big problem because you’re concerned immediately (as you should be) when the rash appears. Unfortunately, in the early stages, most rashes are indistinguishable. In many cases, in order to diagnose them, you’d have to let them evolve and bloom into whatever they’re trying to become, but who has time for that? I remember in medical school, the prevailing wisdom was “If it’s wet, dry it (powder), if it’s dry, wet it (creams, lotions and ointments), and give everybody steroids.” Well, don’t try that at home without your physician’s direction because it’s not universally true, but it sure does seem like hydrocortisone has a lot to do with treating rashes.
Today, I’d like to review two common chronic conditions defined by rashes, and later I’ll do the same with acute presentations of rashes. The thing about eczema and psoriasis is we should know it when we see it, and so should you. By the way, dermatitis is the general term for skin inflammations, and eczema and psoriasis both fall under this category. As such, they have a lot in common, including basic underlying mechanisms (irritation), treatment considerations and a knack at raising frustration levels.

eczemaeczema-2

Eczema (aka atopic dermatitis, which is the most common form of eczema) is a red, dry itchy rash that really is just an inflammatory reaction. If you let it linger, it can become cracked, infected and develop a leather-like consistency. It’s said that you’d develop eczema just by scratching or rubbing your skin long enough, because it’s the damage to the skin that causes the inflammatory reaction that defines eczema. This is why eczema is notoriously called “the itch that rashes”. You’re more likely to have it if you have asthma, have fever or tendencies toward food allergies (or other allergies), but you can get it with pretty much any significant skin irritation. It’s not contagious, but it does run in families.

psoriasisPsoriasis-Classification

Psoriasis is another chronic skin condition that is easily recognized. As noted above, that thick scaly, silvery skin (called plaques) results from an overgrowth of skin cells. As with eczema, this condition is a result of inflammation to the skin, in this instance caused by an overreaction of your immune system speeding up the production of skin cells. Psoriatic lesions are most often seen on the elbows, knees and scalp; it can also involve the back, hands and feet (including the nails). Psoriasis tends to flare-up then go into remission, but during those flare-ups, it is very uncomfortable and unsightly.
These are both ‘dry’ rashes, so treatment involves moisturizers, changing habits to include mild soaps, loose fitting clothing, moderate temperature showers (to avoid drying the skin), and when necessary, antihistamines (like Benadryl) and topical steroid creams (like hydrocortisone). Use any medications after consultation with your physician, who may prescribe more exotic treatments such as medications to calm or suppress the body’s immune response or ultraviolet light therapy. Your job is to identify and avoid the irritants that cause the inflammatory reaction (e.g. sweating, scratching, tight-fitting clothing and anything that dries you out). It’s important for you to get these addressed early before the appearance becomes too bothersome for you.
Feel free to ask any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Eczema and Psoriasis

Eczema_causes

Rashes are very frustrating for patients.  They itch, burn, get infected, aren’t pleasant to look at and never go away rapidly enough. Another problem is no one ever seems to know what they are at first, and that causes a big problem because you’re concerned immediately (as you should be) when the rash appears. Unfortunately, in the early stages, most rashes are indistinguishable. In many cases, in order to diagnose them, you’d have to let them evolve and bloom into whatever they’re trying to become, but who has time for that? I remember in medical school, the prevailing wisdom was “If it’s wet, dry it (powder), if it’s dry, wet it (creams, lotions and ointments), and give everybody steroids.” Well, don’t try that at home without your physician’s direction because it’s not universally true, but it sure does seem like hydrocortisone has a lot to do with treating rashes.
Today, I’d like to review two common chronic conditions defined by rashes, and later I’ll do the same with acute presentations of rashes. The thing about eczema and psoriasis is we should know it when we see it, and so should you. By the way, dermatitis is the general term for skin inflammations, and eczema and psoriasis both fall under this category. As such, they have a lot in common, including basic underlying mechanisms (irritation), treatment considerations and a knack at raising frustration levels.

eczemaeczema-2

Eczema (aka atopic dermatitis, which is the most common form of eczema) is a red, dry itchy rash that really is just an inflammatory reaction. If you let it linger, it can become cracked, infected and develop a leather-like consistency. It’s said that you’d develop eczema just by scratching or rubbing your skin long enough, because it’s the damage to the skin that causes the inflammatory reaction that defines eczema. This is why eczema is notoriously called “the itch that rashes”. You’re more likely to have it if you have asthma, have fever or tendencies toward food allergies (or other allergies), but you can get it with pretty much any significant skin irritation. It’s not contagious, but it does run in families.

psoriasisPsoriasis-Classification

Psoriasis is another chronic skin condition that is easily recognized. As noted above, that thick scaly, silvery skin (called plaques) results from an overgrowth of skin cells. As with eczema, this condition is a result of inflammation to the skin, in this instance caused by an overreaction of your immune system speeding up the production of skin cells. Psoriatic lesions are most often seen on the elbows, knees and scalp; it can also involve the back, hands and feet (including the nails). Psoriasis tends to flare-up then go into remission, but during those flare-ups, it is very uncomfortable and unsightly.
These are both ‘dry’ rashes, so treatment involves moisturizers, changing habits to include mild soaps, loose fitting clothing, moderate temperature showers (to avoid drying the skin), and when necessary, antihistamines (like Benadryl) and topical steroid creams (like hydrocortisone). Use any medications after consultation with your physician, who may prescribe more exotic treatments such as medications to calm or suppress the body’s immune response or ultraviolet light therapy. Your job is to identify and avoid the irritants that cause the inflammatory reaction (e.g. sweating, scratching, tight-fitting clothing and anything that dries you out). It’s important for you to get these addressed early before the appearance becomes too bothersome for you.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA). Enjoy some of our favorite posts and frequently asked questions as well as a daily note explaining the benefits of SMA membership. Please share our page with your Friends on WordPress, on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2014 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Contact Dermatitis, Diaper Rash, Poison Ivy and the Like

contactderm1

Let’s pick up where we left off. In our discussion of eczema and psoriasis, we described the common theme of underlying inflammation manifesting in rashes of different appearances. The theme continues today, with the difference being overlying inflammation. Contact dermatitis (dermatitis = skin inflammation) results from some external entity becoming a nuisance to your skin and generating a response in the form of a rash. You know this in many different forms (shown in the pictures below) – think about those old nickel coated watches, piercings gone bad (piercings also cause actual infections, which is a different consideration), clothing (below is a picture of contact dermatitis caused by flip-flop slippers), poison ivy and diaper rash. I bet the lead picture, which seems like a brand of a butterfly necklace pendant, as well as the following pictures look familiar to many of you.

contractdermwatch

contactdermearcontact-dermatitis-feet

poison-ivy-rash

diaperrash

These rashes are examples of allergic contact dermatitis. Your immune system is generating a response because it believes it is under attack by whatever has touched you. The way the body defends itself leads to release of various chemicals (most notably histamines) that cause the rash. The reason I picked the illustration of the diaper rash is to remind you that the rash actually is in the distribution of the diaper (not just under it), meaning that it may be the diaper that’s the culprit. In other words, don’t just zone in on feces and urine as the problem.  Allergic contact dermatitis can occur from – well, anything you’re allergic to, but it’s commonly associated with latex, fruit peels (especially citrus), lotions, perfumes and other topical substances applied to the skin.
When we discussed eczema earlier, we were describing irritant contact dermatitis, which occurs because something damages the skin (remember eczema is called “the itch that rashes”). Imagine that you’ve sensitized and damaged your eczematous skin by scratching away at it and then place something irritating on it. That’s what this is. The longer the new irritant stays on the already damaged skin, the worse the inflammation is, and the more violent the rash appears.
So let’s get to the bottom line: the name of the game is avoidance (as in poison ivy, latex or other known irritants), prompt recognition and removal of irritants, and symptomatic treatment. If you come in contact with a substance that burns or rashes immediately, remove the object or get away from it, and then wash the affected area with mild soap and moderate water. Consider oral histamines (e.g. benadryl) and a mild OTC hydrocortisone ointment. If the rash isn’t better within a few days, or if you ever feel short of breath or as if your throat is closing (as described in greater detail here), contact your physician or the local emergency room immediately for evaluation. Unless you have an underlying condition like eczema or psoriasis, contact dermatitis should resolve within 2-4 weeks with this approach to management.
So in closing, remember: it’s not just the more you itch, the more you scratch. It’s also the more you scratch, the more you itch. Break the cycle.
Copyright © 2013 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: What's that Rash? Eczema and Psoriasis

Rashes are very frustrating for patients.  They itch, burn, get infected, aren’t pleasant to look at and never go away rapidly enough. Another problem is no one ever seems to know what they are at first, and that causes a big problem because you’re concerned immediately (as you should be) when the rash appears. Unfortunately, in the early stages, most rashes are indistinguishable. In many cases, in order to diagnose them, you’d have to let them evolve and bloom into whatever they’re trying to become, but who has time for that? I remember in medical school, the prevailing wisdom was “If it’s wet, dry it (powder), if it’s dry, wet it (creams, lotions and ointments), and give everybody steroids.” Well, don’t try that at home without your physician’s direction because it’s not universally true, but it sure does seem like hydrocortisone has a lot to do with treating rashes.
Today, I’d like to review two common chronic conditions defined by rashes, and later I’ll do the same with acute presentations of rashes. The thing about eczema and psoriasis is we should know it when we see it, and so should you. By the way, dermatitis is the general term for skin inflammations, and eczema and psoriasis both fall under this category. As such, they have a lot in common, including basic underlying mechanisms (irritation), treatment considerations and a knack at raising frustration levels.
eczema
Eczema (aka atopic dermatitis, which is the most common form of eczema) is a red, dry itchy rash that really is just an inflammatory reaction. If you let it linger, it can become cracked, infected and develop a leather-like consistency. It’s said that you’d develop eczema just by scratching or rubbing your skin long enough, because it’s the damage to the skin that causes the inflammatory reaction that defines eczema. This is why eczema is notoriously called “the itch that rashes”. You’re more likely to have it if you have asthma, have fever or tendencies toward food allergies (or other allergies), but you can get it with pretty much any significant skin irritation. It’s not contagious, but it does run in families.
psoriasis
Psoriasis is another chronic skin condition that is easily recognized. As noted above, that thick scaly, silvery skin (called plaques) results from an overgrowth of skin cells. As with eczema, this condition is a result of inflammation to the skin, in this instance caused by an overreaction of your immune system speeding up the production of skin cells. Psoriatic lesions are most often seen on the elbows, knees and scalp; it can also involve the back, hand and feet (including the nails). Psoriasis tends to flare-up then go into remission, but during those flare-ups, it is very uncomfortable and unsightly.
These are both ‘dry’ rashes, so treatment involves moisturizers, changing habits to include mild soaps, loose fitting clothing, moderate temperature showers (to avoid drying the skin), and when necessary, antihistamines (like Benadryl) and topical steroid creams (like hydrocortisone). Use any medications after consultation with your physician, who may prescribe more exotic treatments such as medications to calm or suppress the body’s immune response or ultraviolet light therapy. Your job is to identify and avoid the irritants that cause the inflammatory reaction (e.g. sweating, scratching, tight-fitting clothing and anything that dries you out). It’s important for you to get these addressed early before the appearance becomes too bothersome for you.
I welcome any questions or comments.
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