Little girl scratching the eczema on her arm

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition characterized by inflammation, dryness, itching, and redness. It affects millions of people worldwide, and individuals with eczema often struggle with managing their symptoms and preventing flare-ups. One common concern for those with eczema is the risk of developing an infection. In this blog post, we will explore the relationship between eczema and infections, and discuss ways to prevent and manage infections in individuals with eczema.

Eczema itself is not an infection, but it can create an environment in which the development of infections is more likely to occur. The skin of individuals with eczema is often compromised, with a weakened skin barrier that allows irritants, allergens, and bacteria to penetrate more easily. Scratching and constant itching, which are common symptoms of eczema, can further damage the skin and increase the risk of infection.

The team at Certified Dermatology in New Jersey and Pennsylvania is dedicated to helping patients diagnose their issues and employ comprehensive strategies to manage and treat them. 

What kinds of infections are associated with eczema?

There are several types of infections that individuals with eczema are prone to:

Bacterial Infections

Staphylococcus aureus, otherwise known as Staph infection, is the most common bacterial infection associated with eczema. Staph bacteria can cause redness, swelling, and oozing of the skin. It can also lead to impetigo, a highly contagious skin infection characterized by yellowish crusts or blisters.

Viral Infections

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) can cause eczema herpeticum, a severe viral infection that affects individuals with eczema. It is characterized by clusters of painful blisters, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Eczema herpeticum requires immediate medical attention.

Fungal Infections

Eczema can create a favorable environment for fungal growth, leading to infections such as ringworm or candidiasis. These infections can cause additional itching, redness, and skin changes.

How can infections be avoided?

Here are some tips to help reduce the risk of infections:

Maintain Good Skin Hygiene

Gently cleanse the affected areas with mild, fragrance-free cleansers and lukewarm water. Avoid harsh soaps and hot water, as they can dry out the skin and cause irritation.

Moisturize Regularly

Apply moisturizers or emollients immediately after bathing to lock in moisture and maintain skin hydration. Opt for fragrance-free and hypoallergenic products specifically formulated for sensitive skin.

Avoid Triggers

Identify and avoid triggers that can exacerbate eczema symptoms, such as certain fabrics, harsh chemicals, extreme temperatures, and certain foods. Keeping a diary can help identify individual triggers.

Trim Nails and Minimize Scratching

Keep nails short and smooth to minimize the risk of breaking the skin during scratching. Encourage wearing cotton gloves or using distractions to prevent scratching.

Use Topical Medications as Prescribed

Follow your dermatologist's instructions regarding the use of topical corticosteroids or other prescribed medications. These medications can help reduce inflammation and manage eczema symptoms.

Seek Prompt Medical Attention

Signs of infection, including increased redness, swelling, pus, or fever, should be taken seriously. Patients should seek out medical attention right away if such conditions arise. Prompt treatment with antibiotics or antiviral medications can help prevent the infection from worsening.

Practice Good Overall Health

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management, and adequate sleep, can support overall immune function and reduce the risk of infections.

What is the takeaway?

While eczema itself is not an infection, individuals with eczema are more susceptible to infections due to compromised skin barrier and constant itching. Preventing and managing infections in individuals with eczema involves maintaining good skin hygiene, moisturizing regularly, avoiding triggers, minimizing scratching, using prescribed medications as directed, seeking prompt medical attention when needed, and practicing good overall health. By taking proactive measures, individuals with eczema can reduce the risk of infections and effectively manage their condition for healthier, happier skin.

At Certified Dermatology, we pride ourselves on providing our clientele with vital information regarding their skin concerns. We can diagnose your issues and get you on a path to healthy, clear skin. Reach out to us today to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our specialists.

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