A Guide to Good Health

Suffering From Dermatitis? How A Primary Care Provider Can Help

If your skin has rashes or is dry, flaky, or itchy, you'll want to get checked out for dermatitis—a type of eczema. Wintertime can be especially difficult for people with dermatitis since the dry air and colder temperatures can exacerbate symptoms.

Although you may not think that dermatitis is a big deal, it may be tempting to scratch itchy skin and open sores, which makes it easier for bacterial, fungal, or viral infections to thrive. Here are some tips to help you get a handle on the problem.

See a Primary Care Provider

You don't necessarily need to get a referral to a dermatologist to take care of dermatitis. Your family doctor or a primary care provider (PCP) can help you treat the issue. In fact, according to NCBI, dermatitis is one of the most commonly seen conditions in primary care.

Your PCP will run tests to help you determine which type of dermatitis you are suffering from. For instance, your dermatitis could be caused by an allergic reaction, so your PCP can order a test kit to see if there are any allergens that are causing the issue. If you have additional symptoms, like hay fever or asthma, then your PCP can check for atopic dermatitis, which is a chronic condition.

Follow Their Treatment Plan

Once your PCP narrows down which type of condition you have, he or she will likely prescribe either an ointment or an oral medication (or both). Steroid creams/ointments can soothe rashes and reduce swelling since they have anti-inflammatory chemicals that suppress immune responses. Antihistamines can be prescribed if you can't stop itching.

Oral corticosteroids can also be prescribed if you have dermatitis all over your body or if you don't respond well to a cream. If the dermatitis is caused by another issue or is already infected, then your PCP may prescribe other medications, like antibiotics.

Even if start to feel better, it's important to finish the recommended course of medication that is prescribed by your doctor so that infections do not persist. Talk with your doctor for more advice.

Take Care of Your Skin at Home

Besides following your doctor's orders, be sure to look for ways to relieve your dermatitis at home. For instance, your current shampoos, lotions, soaps, and body washes could have ingredients or fragrances that could be causing your dermatitis. If you notice that your skin tends to break out after using one of these products, ask your doctor to recommend hypoallergenic options.

When you wash dishes, protect your hands from hot dish soap by wearing gloves. If you need to wash your hands, then make sure that you use a hypoallergenic cream afterward so that your hands don't dry out too much.

Lastly, consider any allergens that could be exacerbating your symptoms. For example, your doctor may recommend that you avoid certain foods, so start implementing dietary changes at home.

Contact your PCP for more information about dermatitis and how to treat it.