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October is Eczema Awareness Month. Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a disease that causes the skin to become inflamed, usually on the arms and behind the knees, but it can occur anywhere on the skin. Due to skin inflammation, eczema can cause rashes, dryness, flaky skin, bumps, peeling, redness and extreme itchiness. It is very common, resulting in more than 3 million cases per year in the U.S.

The skin flare up is a reaction to an allergen. Sometimes it’s as easy as identifying the allergen and removing this item from your life. But other times, it’s not possible to pinpoint the allergen, or not possible to remove it. In these cases, skin flare ups can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes.

1. Medications

Over-the-counter antihistamine products, such as Benadryl, and steroid creams like hydrocortisone can help relieve the rash and itchiness. If that does not work, your doctor may prescribe you a topical cream, oral/ injectable medications, phototherapy or biologic drugs.

2. Skin Care Regimen

A good skincare regimen goes a long way in helping to relieve the symptoms of eczema. First, don’t take hot showers or baths. Very hot water strips away helpful oils from your skin that help to create a moisture barrier. Instead, opt for a lukewarm temperature. Then pat dry with a towel – don’t rub. Immediately after bathing, apply a ceramides- and lipid-infused cream. These help to create a protective barrier on the skin and lock in moisture.

It’s important that patients with eczema avoid harsh soap and other products that may irritate the skin. Try to find fragrance-free soaps, lotions and detergents. This will help limit the amount of chemicals on your skin.

Eczema symptoms vary widely from person to person. Not everyone will respond to a treatment in the same way. Finding a treatment that works for you may take some time. It’s best to familiarize yourself with all of the options and talk to your doctor to find a treatment regimen that works for you.

Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.

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