Dr. Jurzyk helps patients with rashes and eczema get the relief they need for symptoms like itching, dryness and flaking, so they can lead more comfortable lives, avoid infection and ensure their skin remains as healthy as possible. Rashes can have several causes, some mild and some serious. Dr. Jurzyk is skilled in techniques used to identify the causes of rashes in his patients.
Rashes / Eczema Q&A
What causes rashes?
Rashes are patches of reddish or pinkish raised bumps or blisters. They can have many causes, including:
- allergic reactions to plants, insects, animals, detergents, soaps, personal products, foods and medications
- fungal infections, like yeast infections and ringworm
- viral infections, like shingles
- bacterial infections, such as impetigo
- chronic skin problems like psoriasis, eczema (also called atopic dermatitis) or seborrheic dermatitis
- underlying diseases, some of which may be life-threatening, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, cancer, or liver or kidney disease
How are rashes diagnosed?
Some rashes can be diagnosed with a visual examination and a review of your symptoms as well as your activities right before you noticed your symptoms. During your office visit, you’ll also be asked about any medications you’re taking, including supplements, and any new detergents or personal products you might have recently begun using. Other rashes require more in-depth tests and evaluations, including blood work and, in some cases, biopsies (tiny samples of skin that are evaluated under a microscope).
How are rashes treated?
Most rashes are related to allergic reactions, and they can be treated with topical or oral antihistamines, cortisone medications or prescription moisturizers. Cool compresses can help relieve itching or burning until the medicine has a chance to take effect or until you can be seen at our office. Many rashes will go away on their own, but there are some more serious types of rashes that will not go away without treatment. If you have a rash that has persisted for a week or two without resolving, call the office and schedule an evaluation so you can ensure you’re getting the most appropriate and most effective care available.
What is eczema?
Eczema (also called atopic dermatitis) is a chronic skin condition that causes scaly, reddish patches that may be flaky, dry and itchy, or which can become crusted or weepy. Scratching these patches can result in bleeding and even increase the risk of infection. The underlying causes of eczema isn’t known, but most studies indicate an inflammation-inducing immune system response is partly to blame. Eczema can usually be diagnosed with a visual examination and a personal medical history. Eczema isn’t contagious, which means it can’t be passed from one person to another. Eczema symptoms often become worse, or flare up, in response to triggers, such as airborne irritants, foods detergents and even clothing.
Eczema affects people of all races, genders and ages. It is thought to be hereditary and is not contagious. The cause of eczema remains unknown, but it usually has physical, environmental or lifestyle triggers. Coming into contact with a trigger, such as wind or an allergy-producing fabric, launches the rash and inflammation. Although it is possible to get eczema only once, the majority of cases are chronic and are characterized by intermittent flare-ups throughout a person’s life.
What can I do to prevent a flareup of my eczema?
Because flareups occur in response to triggers, identifying the triggers that cause your flareups is the first step in learning how to control them. Generally speaking, common triggers can include:
- chronic stress
- overly dry skin
- changes in temperature, such as very hot weather or very cold weather
- detergents, personal care products and makeup with harsh ingredients
Since eczema can affect people in different ways, it’s also important to work closely with your doctor to learn techniques to keep your eczema under control.
Can my eczema be cured?
Eczema cannot be cured, but it can be managed so symptoms are less severe and flareups less frequent. Many people can find relief with a few changes in skin care products and routines. Avoiding long, hot showers or baths can help prevent skin from drying out, as can regular use of gentle moisturizers. Use mild soaps and detergents to avoid irritation. Over-the-counter antihistamines may help with itching, but when these steps don’t provide relief, prescription medications and skin care products can be very effective.
The best form of prevention is to identify and remove the trigger. You should also use mild cleansers and keep your skin well moisturized at all times. Also avoid scratching the rash (which can lead to infection) and situations that make you sweat, such as strenuous exercise.
Leading Types of Eczema
Eczema takes on different forms depending on the nature of the trigger and the location of the rash. While they all share some common symptoms – like itchiness – there are differences. Following are some of the most common types of eczema.
The most frequent form of eczema, atopic dermatitis is thought to be caused by abnormal functioning of the body’s immune system. It is characterized by itchy, inflamed skin. Atopic dermatitis tends to run in families. About two-thirds of the people who develop this form of eczema do so before the age of one. Atopic dermatitis generally flares up and recedes intermittently throughout the patient’s life.
Contact dermatitis is caused when the skin comes into contact with an allergy-producing agent or an irritant, such as chemicals. Finding the triggering allergen is important to treatment and prevention. Allergens can be things like laundry detergent, cosmetics, jewelry, fabrics, perfume, diapers and poison ivy or poison sumac.
This type of eczema strikes the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It produces clear, deep blisters that itch and burn. Dyshidrotic dermatitis occurs most frequently during the summer months and in warm climates.
Also known as Lichen Simplex Chronicus, this is a chronic skin inflammation caused by a continuous cycle of scratching and itching in response to a localized itch, like a mosquito bite. It creates scaly patches of skin, most commonly on the head, lower legs, wrists or forearms. Over time, the skin may become thickened and leathery.
This form of eczema appears as round patches of irritated skin that may be crusted, scaly and extremely itchy. Nummular dermatitis most frequently appears on the arms, back, buttocks and lower legs, and is usually a chronic condition.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a common condition that causes yellowish, oily and scaly patches on the scalp, face or other body parts. Dandruff, in adults, and cradle cap, in infants, are both forms of seborrheic dermatitis. Unlike other types of eczema, seborrheic dermatitis does not necessarily itch. It tends to run in families. Known triggers include weather, oily skin, emotional stress and infrequent shampooing.
Also known as varicose eczema, this form of eczema is a skin irritation that appears on the lower legs of middle-aged and elderly people. It is related to circulation and vein problems. Symptoms include itching and reddish-brown discoloration of the skin on one or both legs. As the condition progresses, it can lead to blistering, oozing and skin lesions.