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 How to Treat Eczema: A Comprehensive Guide

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Last Updated on May 18, 2023 by Nurse Vicky

 How to Treat Eczema: A Comprehensive Guide

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition that causes itching, redness, and dryness. It is a common condition, affecting millions of people worldwide, and can occur at any age, but is most common in children.

The exact cause of eczema is unknown, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some common triggers include stress, changes in temperature, exposure to irritants, and certain foods.

Understanding Eczema and its Symptoms

 

Eczema is a skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide.It is characterized by dry, itchy, and inflamed skin. Eczema can be a chronic condition, which means that it can last for an extended period and recur at different times.

Types of Eczema There are several types of eczema, including:

  • Atopic Dermatitis: This is the most common type of eczema and is often hereditary. It affects people of all ages and can be accompanied by hay fever or asthma.
  • Contact Dermatitis: This type of eczema is caused by direct contact with an irritant or allergen, such as detergents, soap, or certain materials.
  • Dyshidrotic Eczema: This type of eczema is characterized by small, fluid-filled blisters on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
  • Nummular Eczema: This type of eczema is characterized by coin-shaped patches on the skin that are dry and scaly.
  • Stasis Dermatitis: This type of eczema occurs as a result of poor blood flow in the legs and is more common in older adults.

Causes of Eczema The exact cause of eczema is unknown, but it is believed to be related to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Some common triggers of eczema include:

  • Allergens: Exposure to allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, and pollen can trigger eczema symptoms.
  • Irritants: Exposure to certain chemicals, soaps, and detergents can cause skin irritation and trigger eczema.
  • Dry skin: Dry skin can make eczema symptoms worse and can also trigger eczema.
  • Stress: Stress can also trigger eczema symptoms and make them worse.
  • Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes, such as during puberty or pregnancy, can also trigger eczema.

Symptoms of Eczema The symptoms of eczema can vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe.

Common symptoms of eczema include:

  • Itchy skin: Eczema can cause the skin to become extremely itchy, which can be unbearable and lead to scratching and further irritation.
  • Dry skin: Eczema can cause the skin to become dry, scaly, and rough.
  • Red and inflamed skin: Eczema can cause the skin to become red, swollen, and inflamed.
  • Blisters: Some types of eczema can cause fluid-filled blisters to form on the skin.
  • Cracks and sores: Eczema can cause the skin to crack and form sores, which can become infected if not treated.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Eczema

 

Diagnosing Eczema If you suspect that you have eczema, it is essential to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis. Your doctor will perform a physical examination of your skin and ask about your symptoms and medical history.

They may also perform a skin test to determine if you have any allergies that could be triggering your eczema.  Skin Tests for Eczema Several skin tests can be performed to determine if you have eczema and what may be triggering your symptoms.

These tests include:

Patch Test:

During a patch test, small amounts of common allergens are placed on the skin and covered with a patch. The patches are removed after a set amount of time, and the doctor will observe the skin for any reactions.
  • Prick Test: During a prick test, small amounts of allergens are placed on the skin, and a needle is used to prick the skin and allow the allergen to penetrate.
  • The skin is then observed for any reactions.
  • Intradermal Test: During an intradermal test, a small amount of allergen is injected into the skin, and the skin is observed for any reaction
  •  Treating Eczema can be challenging, as there is no cure.
  • However, there are several ways to manage and control the symptoms of eczema.

These include:

Medications Several medications can be used to treat eczema, including:

  • Topical Corticosteroids: Topical corticosteroids are creams or ointments that are applied to the skin to reduce inflammation and itching. They come in varying strengths and can be used for short-term or long-term treatment.
  • Topical Calcineurin Inhibitors: Topical calcineurin inhibitors are creams that can be used to treat eczema. They work by suppressing the immune system and reducing inflammation.
  • Antihistamines: Antihistamines can be taken orally or applied topically to relieve itching and help you sleep.
  • Antibiotics: If your eczema becomes infected, antibiotics may be prescribed to clear up the infection.

Moisturizing is an essential part of treating eczema.

 

Moisturizing can help to soothe dry, itchy skin and prevent cracking and sores. Some tips for moisturizing include:

  • Use fragrance-free moisturizers: Fragrances can irritate the skin and make eczema symptoms worse. Look for fragrance-free moisturizers that are specifically formulated for sensitive skin.
  • Apply moisturizer immediately after bathing: After bathing, pat the skin dry and apply moisturizer while the skin is still damp.
  • This will help to lock in moisture and prevent dry skin.
  • Use ointments: Ointments, such as petroleum jelly, are more effective at moisturizing the skin than creams or lotions.

Avoiding Triggers: Avoiding triggers is another important part of treating eczema.

Common triggers include:

  • Allergens: Avoid exposure to allergens, such as dust mites, pet dander, and pollen.
  • Irritants: Avoid exposure to irritants, such as harsh soaps and detergents.
  • Stress: Try to manage stress through exercise, meditation, or other stress-management techniques.
  • Extreme temperatures: Avoid exposure to extreme temperatures, as hot or cold weather can make eczema symptoms worse.

Bathing and Clothing Proper bathing and clothing can also help to manage eczema symptoms.

Some tips include:

  • Use warm, not hot, water: Hot water can strip the skin of its natural oils and make eczema symptoms worse. Use warm water when bathing, and limit your bath time to 10-15 minutes.
  • Avoid harsh soaps: Use fragrance-free, gentle soaps when bathing, and avoid scrubbing the skin.
  • Pat the skin dry: After bathing, dry the skin with a soft towel. Avoid
 Diagnosis of Eczema

Diagnosing eczema can be difficult, as the symptoms can be similar to those of other skin conditions.

To diagnose eczema, a doctor will typically perform a physical exam, review the patient’s medical history, and rule out any other underlying conditions that may be causing the symptoms. In some cases, a skin biopsy may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

 

Treating Eczema

 

There is no cure for eczema, but there are various treatments that can help manage the symptoms and reduce the severity of outbreaks.

The following are some of the most common treatments for eczema:

Topical Corticosteroids

 

Topical corticosteroids are one of the most commonly prescribed treatments for eczema. They work by reducing inflammation and itching and come in a variety of forms, including creams, ointments, and lotions.

Moisturizers

 

Moisturizing the skin is an essential part of eczema treatment. Using a thick, fragrance-free moisturizer can help soothe dry and irritated skin and prevent itching.

Antihistamines

Antihistamines can help relieve itching and reduce redness associated with eczema. They work by blocking the effects of histamine, a chemical that triggers itching.

Light Therapy

 

Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, involves exposing the skin to artificial ultraviolet (UV) light. It is often used to treat moderate to severe cases of eczema and can help reduce inflammation and itching.

Oral Medications

 

In severe cases, oral medications may be necessary to control eczema symptoms. These medications include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antibiotics, and immunosuppressants.

Lifestyle Changes to Improve Eczema

 

In addition to medical treatments, several lifestyle changes can help improve eczema and prevent outbreaks. These include:

Avoiding Triggers

 

Identifying and avoiding triggers is one of the most effective ways to prevent eczema outbreaks. Common triggers include stress, exposure to irritants, and certain foods.

Maintaining a Healthy Diet

 

Eating a balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and nutrients can help improve the overall health of the skin and reduce the severity of eczema symptoms. Some foods that have been shown to help improve eczema include omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and vitamin D.

Staying Hydrated

 

Drinking plenty of water can help keep the skin hydrated and reduce the risk of eczema outbreaks.

Managing Stress

Stress can be a trigger for eczema, so it is important to manage stress levels to prevent outbreaks. This can be done through relaxation techniques, exercise, and therapy.

Conclusion

 

Eczema is a common skin condition that can cause itching, redness, and dryness. While there is no cure for the conclusion, eczema is a common skin condition that can be difficult to treat.  However, by working with a doctor, identifying and avoiding triggers, using medications, moisturizing

regularly, and practicing proper bathing and clothing techniques, it is possible to manage and control the symptoms of eczema.  With proper treatment, many people with eczema can achieve clearer, healthier-looking skin.

If you suspect you may have eczema, it’s important to see a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and develop an effective treatment plan.  With the right approach, it is possible to find relief from the symptoms of eczema and improve the appearance and overall health of your skin.

 

 

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I Regret My Laser Eye Surgery for My Wedding—Here’s What I Wish I Knew

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I Regret My Laser Eye Surgery for My Wedding—Here’s What I Wish I Knew

Laser eye surgery is often touted as a miracle solution for those tired of glasses and contact lenses. But what happens when this seemingly perfect procedure goes wrong? This is the story of Erin Orchard, who underwent laser eye surgery to make her wedding day perfect, only to face unexpected and prolonged consequences. Her journey underscores the importance of informed consent and thorough communication in healthcare.

Deciding on Laser Eye Surgery

In 2019, at the age of 31, Erin Orchard decided to undergo eye surgery. The reasoning behind this decision was deeply personal. She was engaged and struggling with contact lenses for her upcoming wedding, just a few months away. While it may seem like a minor inconvenience, it was significant to her at the time.

Recommendations and Evaluation

Erin’s mother and several friends had undergone laser eye surgery and recommended it. The allure of being free from glasses or contacts on her wedding day, especially given her active lifestyle and frequent gym visits, was compelling.

She made an appointment to see if she was a candidate for the surgery. After a thorough evaluation, she was confirmed as a perfect candidate. Erin spent roughly a month weighing the pros and cons before deciding to proceed.

The Assurance of Safety

The surgeon assured Erin that the procedure was extremely safe, calling it one of the safest surgeries in the world. He spent considerable time convincing her of its safety, which was crucial as she was quite anxious.

Potential Risks Mentioned

The surgeon highlighted that he had treated professional athletes who quickly returned to their sports after surgery. He mentioned potential downsides, like mild dry eye and the possibility of needing glasses again in the future. However, the risk of corneal neuralgia was not discussed, nor was it included on the consent form.

The Day of the Surgery

On the day of the surgery, Erin was very anxious. The thought of something going inside her eye was daunting. Her incredibly supportive partner accompanied her.

Change of Procedure

Before the surgery, the medical team gave her Valium to help calm her nerves. Initially, Erin was scheduled for LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis), but due to her anxiety, they switched to PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) because she couldn’t keep the suction cup for LASIK steady.

Post-Surgery Challenges

Reflecting on that day, Erin wishes the medical team had recognized her anxiety and allowed her more time to reconsider. If they had, she might have opted out of the surgery. Informed consent is something she now strongly advocates for, especially after her experience.

Immediate Pain and Discomfort

After the surgery, which lasted about 15 minutes, Erin went home to rest. The next day, she began feeling significant pain and discomfort. At a follow-up appointment, she was told that the pain was normal and part of the immediate recovery phase. They assured her she would be fine to return to work by Monday. However, the pain worsened over the week and lasted for months.

Long-Term Consequences

Erin developed extreme light sensitivity, making it difficult to go outside or look at screens. This condition persisted for several months. She was constantly in pain. During this time, she and her partner had to block out light from their home, and Erin wore dark sunglasses even indoors.

Struggles with Light Sensitivity

The light sensitivity eventually improved, but the pain did not. Erin took a month off work as she struggled to function normally. She reached out to the clinic multiple times, but their responses did little to alleviate her distress.

Chronic Pain Management

Erin was prescribed a lot of pain medication, and her GP and other specialists worked hard to help her manage the pain. Despite their efforts, she still experiences pain daily, even five years later. Some days are more manageable than others, but the unpredictability of the pain can make life challenging.

Considering Legal Action

Erin considered legal action but decided against it due to the potential costs. Her interactions with the surgeon’s team were uncomfortable, and she eventually cut off contact, requesting that any necessary information be communicated through her GP.

Filing a Formal Complaint

She filed a formal complaint with the health department, which was still being investigated when the surgeon unfortunately passed away from COVID-19. This added a twist to her story, but the investigation led to changes in the clinic’s policies regarding patient information on the risks of corneal neuralgia.

Reflections and Advocacy

Overall, Erin’s journey has been a roller coaster. She no longer shares this story often, partly because of the surgeon’s passing. However, she feels it’s important for others to be fully informed before undergoing such procedures. Her experience highlights the need for thorough communication and informed consent in healthcare.

Erin’s Current Life

Erin Orchard is a 36-year-old student from Sydney, Australia, currently studying for her Master of Occupational Therapy. Alongside her studies, she is deeply involved in animal welfare as the Cat Coordinator at Maggie’s Rescue. She also provides pet-sitting services for dogs and cats in her local area.

Conclusion

Erin’s experience serves as a cautionary tale for anyone considering laser eye surgery. While the promise of perfect vision without glasses or contacts is tempting, it’s crucial to understand all potential risks and to advocate for thorough informed consent. Her story reminds us of the importance of being fully aware of the possible consequences before making significant medical decisions.

FAQs

1. What are the common risks of laser eye surgery?

Laser eye surgery can have several risks, including dry eyes, glare, halos, under-corrections, over-corrections, and in rare cases, more severe complications like corneal neuralgia.

2. What is corneal neuralgia?

Corneal neuralgia is a condition where the nerves in the cornea are damaged, causing chronic pain. This risk was not discussed with Erin before her surgery.

3. What is the difference between LASIK and PRK?

LASIK involves creating a flap in the cornea, while PRK removes the outer layer of the cornea entirely. PRK has a longer recovery time but is often recommended for patients with thinner corneas.

4. How long does recovery from laser eye surgery typically take?

Recovery time can vary, but most people return to normal activities within a few days to a week. However, full visual stabilization can take several months.

5. What should patients ask their surgeons before laser eye surgery?

Patients should ask about all potential risks, the surgeon’s experience, alternative treatments, and the detailed recovery process. It’s essential to ensure all concerns are addressed before proceeding.


References

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Study Shows Teenagers Can Pass Mental Health Disorders to Each Other

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Study Shows Teenagers Can Pass Mental Health Disorders to Each Other

A groundbreaking study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry reveals that mental disorders can spread among teenagers through their social networks. The research, conducted by a team from the University of Helsinki, highlights a significant association between having friends with mental disorders and the likelihood of developing similar conditions.

The Study and Its Findings

Research Background

The study analyzed data from over 710,000 Finnish students across 860 high schools. The primary objective was to determine if there was a correlation between having friends diagnosed with mental disorders and the risk of developing such disorders.

Key Findings

  • Initial Diagnosis and Follow-Up: By the ninth grade, about 47,000 students had been diagnosed with some form of mental disorder. During a follow-up period, an additional 167,000 students (25% of the total) received a diagnosis.
  • Risk Factors: The presence of more than one diagnosed classmate increased the overall risk of developing a mental disorder by 5%. Notably, the risk surged to 9% with one diagnosed classmate and 18% with multiple diagnosed classmates during the first year of follow-up.
  • Disorder Types: The most significant risks were associated with mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders.

Implications of the Findings

The researchers concluded that mental disorders might be transmitted within adolescent peer networks. This discovery underscores the importance of considering peer influences in mental health interventions.

Mechanisms of Transmission

Normalization of Mental Disorders

One proposed mechanism is the normalization of mental health issues within peer groups. Increased awareness and acceptance of mental health diagnoses can lead to a higher likelihood of seeking help and receiving a diagnosis.

Interpersonal Contagion

For certain disorders, such as depression, the study suggests the possibility of direct interpersonal contagion. Peer influence is particularly significant among teenagers, making them vulnerable to conditions like eating disorders through social interactions.

Societal and Cultural Influences

Michaela James, a mental health researcher at Swansea University, emphasizes that the rise in mental health diagnoses is not solely due to peer influence. She points to broader societal and cultural issues, such as declining physical health, unhealthy eating habits, and increased emotional and behavioral difficulties among young people.

Broader Context and Future Directions

The Role of the Pandemic

James highlights that the COVID-19 pandemic and its restrictions may have exacerbated mental health issues. The study’s findings suggest that pre-existing, undiagnosed disorders might become more apparent in social networks, rather than mental health issues spreading like a contagion.

Need for Comprehensive Interventions

The researchers advocate for prevention and intervention measures that consider peer influences on mental health. They stress the importance of addressing physical skills, promoting confidence and autonomy in physical activities, and enhancing overall well-being and socialization.

Further Research

While the study establishes a clear association, the exact mechanisms driving this phenomenon remain unclear. Further research is needed to explore how and why mental disorders spread within social networks and to develop effective interventions.

Conclusion

The study from the University of Helsinki provides crucial insights into the spread of mental disorders among teenagers. Understanding the role of peer networks in mental health can inform more effective prevention and intervention strategies, ultimately reducing the burden of mental disorders in society.


FAQs

1. How do mental disorders spread among teenagers?

Mental disorders can spread through social networks among teenagers. This may occur through normalization of mental health issues, direct interpersonal contagion, or broader societal and cultural influences.

2. What types of mental disorders are most likely to spread among teens?

The study found that mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders were most likely to spread among teens through their social networks.

3. What role does the COVID-19 pandemic play in the spread of mental disorders among teenagers?

The pandemic and its accompanying restrictions may have exacerbated mental health issues among teenagers, making pre-existing, undiagnosed disorders more apparent within social networks.

4. What can be done to prevent the spread of mental disorders among teenagers?

Effective prevention and intervention measures should consider peer influences on mental health. Promoting physical activities, confidence, autonomy, and overall well-being are crucial.

5. What further research is needed to understand the spread of mental disorders among teenagers?

Further research is required to clarify the mechanisms that explain the association between peer networks and mental health disorders and to develop targeted interventions.


References

  • University of Helsinki Study on Mental Disorders and Peer Influence
  • Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry
  • Michaela James’ comments on mental health trends
  • Newsweek article on the impact of societal changes on mental health

News Source: Newsweek Article on Mental Disorders in Teenagers

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How Often Do I Need to Get the Yellow Fever Vaccine?

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How Often Do I Need to Get the Yellow Fever Vaccine?

Yellow fever is a serious viral infection spread by mosquitoes in tropical and subtropical regions. If you’re planning to travel to areas where yellow fever is prevalent, it’s crucial to understand the vaccination requirements and schedules.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore how often you need to get the yellow fever vaccine, what the vaccine entails, and other essential information to keep you safe and informed.

Understanding Yellow Fever

Yellow fever is caused by a virus transmitted by the Aedes and Haemagogus species of mosquitoes. Symptoms can range from mild fever and headache to severe liver disease with bleeding and jaundice. The yellow fever vaccine is highly effective in preventing this disease.

What Is the Yellow Fever Vaccine?

The yellow fever vaccine is a live-attenuated vaccine, which means it contains a weakened form of the virus that stimulates the immune system to build protection without causing the disease.

Why Is the Vaccine Important?

The yellow fever vaccine is essential for preventing infection in areas where the virus is endemic. Many countries require proof of vaccination for travelers arriving from regions with yellow fever.

Vaccination Schedule

Initial Dose

The initial dose of the yellow fever vaccine is typically given at least 10 days before travel to an endemic area. This single dose provides lifelong protection for most individuals.

Booster Dose

Historically, a booster dose was recommended every 10 years for those at continued risk. However, recent studies have shown that a single dose of the vaccine provides lifelong immunity for most people.

Exceptions Requiring Boosters

  • Children vaccinated before age 2: They may need a booster dose if they continue to live or travel to endemic areas.
  • Pregnant women: Vaccination during pregnancy is generally avoided unless the risk of yellow fever is high. In such cases, the woman might need a booster dose later.
  • Individuals with weakened immune systems: Those with conditions that suppress the immune system might require additional doses.

Who Should Get Vaccinated?

Travelers to Endemic Areas

Anyone traveling to or living in areas where yellow fever is endemic should receive the vaccine.

Lab Workers

Individuals who work with the yellow fever virus in laboratories should be vaccinated.

Exemptions

  • Infants under 9 months: Not routinely recommended due to the risk of serious adverse reactions.
  • People with severe egg allergies: The vaccine is cultured in eggs and may cause reactions.
  • Individuals with weakened immune systems: This includes those undergoing chemotherapy or with conditions like HIV.

Side Effects and Safety

Common Side Effects

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Soreness at the injection site

Rare but Serious Side Effects

  • Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis)
  • Neurological conditions like encephalitis
  • Organ system failure (yellow fever vaccine-associated viscerotropic disease)

Proof of Vaccination

International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP)

This is an official document that proves you have been vaccinated against yellow fever. It’s required for entry into some countries and should be carried with you when traveling.

Vaccination Documentation

Ensure your vaccination records are up to date and include the date of vaccination and the administering healthcare provider’s information.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Long Before Travel Should I Get Vaccinated?

You should get vaccinated at least 10 days before your trip. This allows enough time for the vaccine to provide protection.

2. Is One Dose Enough for Life?

For most people, a single dose provides lifelong immunity. However, certain individuals may require booster doses.

3. Can I Get the Vaccine If I Am Pregnant?

Pregnant women should avoid the vaccine unless the risk of yellow fever is high. Consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice.

4. What Should I Do If I Lose My Vaccination Certificate?

If you lose your ICVP, contact the healthcare provider or clinic where you received the vaccine for a replacement.

5. Are There Any Travel Restrictions Related to Yellow Fever?

Yes, many countries require proof of vaccination for travelers coming from areas with yellow fever. Check the specific requirements of your destination.

6. What If I Have a Severe Allergy to Eggs?

If you have a severe egg allergy, you should not receive the yellow fever vaccine. Consult with your healthcare provider for alternative options.

7. Can Children Receive the Yellow Fever Vaccine?

Children aged 9 months and older can receive the vaccine. Those under 9 months should not be vaccinated unless they are traveling to high-risk areas.

8. Can I Get Yellow Fever from the Vaccine?

No, the vaccine contains a live-attenuated virus that is not capable of causing the disease in healthy individuals.

9. What Should I Do If I Experience Side Effects?

If you experience mild side effects, such as fever or soreness, they should resolve on their own. For severe reactions, seek medical attention immediately.

10. Are There Alternative Vaccines Available?

Currently, there is no alternative to the yellow fever vaccine. Preventative measures include avoiding mosquito bites through the use of repellents and protective clothing.

11. How Does Yellow Fever Compare to Other Mosquito-Borne Diseases?

Yellow fever is more severe than diseases like dengue or Zika, with higher fatality rates and the potential for serious complications.

12. Can I Travel Without the Vaccine?

Traveling without the vaccine to endemic areas is not recommended and may be restricted by certain countries. Always check the vaccination requirements for your destination.

13. Is the Vaccine Covered by Insurance?

Many insurance plans cover the cost of the yellow fever vaccine. Check with your provider for details.

14. Can I Receive Other Vaccines at the Same Time?

Yes, the yellow fever vaccine can be administered simultaneously with other vaccines, but always consult with your healthcare provider for the best schedule.

Conclusion

Getting vaccinated against yellow fever is a crucial step in protecting yourself from a potentially deadly disease, especially if you are traveling to areas where the virus is endemic. While a single dose of the vaccine provides lifelong protection for most people, certain individuals may need booster doses under specific circumstances.

Always consult with your healthcare provider to ensure you are up to date with your vaccinations and understand the requirements for your travel destinations.

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