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Do You Know The Symptoms Of Eczema Infection?

Aug 17, 2007
During flare ups of Atopic Dermatitis (AD and also the condition that most people know as eczema), common symptoms include: redness, swelling, and cracks in the skin. The last of these, cracks in the skin, are open invitations for infection in your skin. You need to know how to recognize this, when to see a dermatologist about it, and how you can prevent it.

Chances are that you probably have staph bacteria on your skin; 90% of AD sufferers do. Those who do not suffer from this disease (AD), have a less than 5% chance of carrying it on their skin. Any break in your skin, as an eczema patient, opens the door to microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and viruses). Your body also has trouble producing two natural antibiotic proteins which are necessary for you to fight infection. Between the compromised immune system and the presence of staph bacteria, you are much more apt to get infections during flare ups. The Herpes Simplex virus and fungal infections can also be problems for you during flare ups.

How do I know it?
If you see signs of infection, it is important to see your doctor/dermatologist immediately. Major signs include:

Pus filled blisters or a light yellow crust appearing in patches of your eczema. Often, blisters are noticed first, then they pop and the crust is formed.

Redness or fever in the affected area will usually occur with infection, especially if the redness streaks or spreads (indication of staph infection).

Swelling is another sign of infection. General fever will develop as the infection takes hold in your body.

Cold sores or fever blisters in areas affected by the eczema are signs of a viral infection called herpeticum, which spreads quickly. Early stages will be tiny, clear blisters. As these pop, the virus is spread. The virus can prove fatal if not properly treated. Children with eczema (in the form of AD) should not be near people with cold sores.

If you see signs of infection, it is important to see your doctor/dermatologist immediately. Besides the possibility of serious harm (and fatality in some cases) to you, some infections are extremely contagious (like staph) and can easily be spread to loved ones, friends, and co workers. Early treatment seriously lessens infection severity and duration.

You may be treated with antibiotics, antiviral agents, or antifungals, depending on the type of infection you have. If the infection is severe enough (as in the case of staph) you may need to be quarantined.

In severe cases, you may be treated by a diluted bleach bath to kill bacteria on your skin. Do not try this without doctor's orders and instructions. The amount of bleach in the bath is important as too much can be harmful to you. Phototherapy is another possible treatment for severe cases. Specialized UV rays, delivered by lasers or sunlamps, can help reduce the bacteria on the skin as well as reduce inflammation. Topical treatments are often used in infectious cases.

How can I prevent infections?

The best way to keep from getting infections is to minimize your flare ups. In order to do this, you can:

Learn to recognize your triggers so that you can avoid them.
Keep your stress level to a minimum.
Keep skin clean, but do not over do it. Bath or Shower in warm water with mild soap.

Moisturize often with a cream or petroleum jelly based moisturizer. Lotions are ineffective because they actually contain ingredients that can dry the skin. After bathing and washing hands, always apply the moisturizer to wet skin and moisturize throughout the day when you start itching.

Keep your body temperature consistent.
Cold compresses can help with itching.
Cleanse perspiration off as soon as you can, remembering to moisturize after cleansing.

Keep fingernails trimmed and wear cotton gloves at night to keep from breaking the skin open through inadvertent scratching.

During flare ups, stay away from people with cold sores or chicken pox. You are especially susceptible to the viruses that cause these during flare ups.
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