Simple Ways to Combat Itchy Skin

I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Pfizer, Inc. to write about the signs, symptoms, and treatments available for eczema/atopic dermatitis in communities of color. All opinions are my own. 

It’s that time of year where the weather is changing and so is our skin. The temperatures are dropping which often means the humidity is low both inside and out. Also, the lack of vitamin D from the sun in the winter months can play a role in exacerbating eczema. Combating itchy skin isn’t always easy because once that itch comes it is hard to stop. 

I shared previously how growing up as a brown skin girl I suffered due to eczema (more specifically, atopic dermatitis) and it had a great impact on how I viewed myself.  The pigmentation changes didn’t make me feel great about myself, but I learned my triggers and did what I could to avoid them. 

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I am partnering with Med-IQ to help generate awareness around eczema/atopic dermatitis, share treatment options and details on why the pandemic should not stop you from seeing a medical professional. Med-IQ is an accredited medical education company that provides an exceptional educational experience for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals. 

Brown Girl with Eczema Atopic dermatitis  Natural skin care itchy skin

Treatment Options for Itchy Dry Skin

Itchy dry skin generally results when the skin doesn't retain adequate moisture. There are basic ways to combat itchy skin, but it is important to know that atopic dermatitis is not something you have to suffer with and, if symptoms don’t go away, it is important to seek help from a medical professional, as a variety of treatments are available. Below are some tips on basic skin care and trigger avoidance that I follow to keep to the itch away.

  • Check the soap. Reading ingredients are a very important step in creating proper skin care. Avoid deodorant soaps, perfumed soaps and alcohol-based products that can strip the skin of natural oils. Reach for soaps and cleansers that are oil-based, do not contain preservatives, and moisturize the skin. In fact, for many people, moisturizing the skin can be enough, although these products can be expensive. 
  • Use a humidifier. Increase the moisture in your home with a humidifier
  • Limit time in the shower. A long hot shower sounds great, but it can strip the skin’s moisture. Opt for 5-10 minutes with lukewarm water. 
  • Moisturize. Use moisturizer immediately after bathing and washing your hands. This helps lock the moisture in while your skin is damp.
  • Use a cold compress. It seems to dull the itch while the moisturizer is working.
  • Use fragrance-free laundry detergents and avoid fabric softeners.
  • Watch the fabrics. Avoid wearing wool and other fabrics that can irritate the skin. Loose fitting cotton allow the skin to breathe
  • Wear gloves. If your hands are in water throughout the day, gloves can prevent your skin from drying. 
  • Diet. What we put on the inside of our bodies affects the outside. Elimination diets are great for helping to discover if something you eat is affecting your skin.
  • Drink your water. The skin needs hydration on the inside so make it part of your daily routine. 
Natura skin care products itchy skin

Topical Skin Therapies

Skin moisturizers, which rehydrate the top layer of the skin and seal in the moisture, and thicker but greasier over-the-counter moisturizers are often a first step. Natural remedies such as a milk or oatmeal bath can provide relief. I reach for virgin coconut oil because it is thick, greasy and I like the smell.  

Topical therapies for mild or moderate atopic dermatitis include the short-term use of topical corticosteroids as long-term use is not recommended due to an increased risk of side effects such as skin thinning, striae (aka stretch marks), rosacea, and other problems. 

Corticosteroid-sparing therapies are also available if basic management strategies do not provide relief; these can be used longer term and are recommended for sensitive body sites such as the face or diaper area. These include crisaborole (Eucrisa®), topical calcineurin inhibitors such as tacrolimus ointment (Protopic®) and pimecrolimus cream (Elidel®), and generic options. 

Phototherapy is another option if topical options don’t appear to be working. However, it can be time consuming and expensive.

Systemic therapies for moderate to severe atopic dermatitis include nonspecific immunosuppressants such as systemic corticosteroids and other immunosuppressing therapies; however, their use may be limited due to side effects, potential for rebound flares, or the need for laboratory work.

New systemic agents are emerging that target the underlying causes of atopic dermatitis, including the factors that cause itch and inflammation. Currently, one injectable biologic is FDA approved for use in patients aged 6 years and older, and other targeted agents that can be taken orally are currently in development.

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Treatment Plan

Because atopic dermatitis is a chronic condition, a formal written plan or “Eczema Action Plan” can help patients follow their recommended management plan. It is important for patients to follow treatment instructions carefully so that if their symptoms don’t improve or they experience any side effects, their doctors can determine another treatment option.

Simple Ways to Combat Itchy Skin 1

Covid-19 and Telemedicine

Telemedicine is an effective, alternative way to ensure easy and timely visits, especially now when the need for social distancing has led to healthcare practices limiting appointments―which makes seeing a doctor more challenging.

To optimize a telemedicine visit for atopic dermatitis, follow these tips according from the American Academy of Dermatology :

  • Before making an appointment, check with insurance providers to make sure they cover telemedicine visits.
  • Take photos of the condition before the visit and send the images to the doctor in advance because high-resolution images are better quality than video. 
  • Collect any medicines in advance of the appointment and have them nearby.
  • Come prepared to discuss any family history of allergies and asthma. 
  • Find a quiet area and make sure there is internet access.
  • Because lighting is very important for dermatology visits, patients should place the light in front of them and face the window; windows should not be behind them. 
  • Patients should know their cleansing and moisturizing routines.

Resources: 

Links to external sites are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They are not intended and should not be construed as legal or medical advice, nor are they endorsements of any organization. Med-IQ bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of any external site. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.

National Eczema Association

Telemedicine and Teledermatology

Listen to Jeannette Kaplun‘s of Hispana Global Facebook Live interview with Dr. Andrew Alexis, Director of Dermatology, Mount Sinai West and Mount Sinai Morningside, New York, NY to learn valuable information on treating eczema in skin of color, including the latest treatment options and how best to utilize telemedicine to access a skin care professional

How you can help

Med-IQ is conducting an anonymous survey and would appreciate your input. The survey will take less than 10 minutes to complete. Survey responses are shared only in aggregate. Your responses to these survey questions will provide Med-IQ with important information about your experiences with atopic dermatitis, which will help us develop future educational initiatives. Once you've completed the survey, you will have the option of providing your email address to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 10 $100 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will be used only to randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize and to send a follow-up survey as part of this same initiative. 

Links to external sites are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They are not intended and should not be construed as legal or medical advice, nor are they endorsements of any organization. Med-IQ bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of any external site. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.

The survey contains links to external sites. Any such links are provided as a convenience and for educational purposes only. They are not intended as medical or legal advice, nor are they endorsements of any organization.

Welcome to my home on the web... I’m Tomika, the thought leader behind Life in Pumps. I love all things fashion, fun & travel! I’m a wife and mother of two very active teenagers. I'm a social butterfly and passionate about advocating for breast cancer disparities and the benefits of organics. Follow along as I believe life is more fun when you actually live it!

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