That ring of red, itchy skin circling your ankle is not the ankle bracelet you had hoped for. Instead, it is a persistent annoyance driving you mad and keeping you up at night. Could it be eczema? Finding the source is a step on the right path to relief.
What are the Symptoms of Eczema?
Review the following symptoms to see if your problems match up with the diagnosis of eczema.
- Intense itching on the skin. Often appears before any visible signs of a rash.
- Red rash.
- Bumps of varying sizes.
- Burning sensation. Most in common sensitive areas like the eyelids, mouth, or ears.
- Oozing that occurs after scratching the bumps.
- Scaly patches of skin, sometimes resembling leather or lizard skin.
- Painful cracks in the skin
Because eczema has multiple overlapping symptoms with other skin conditions, it is recommended to seek medical advisement before self-treating.
A general practitioner or dermatologist can use their trained eye to accurately identify if the rash is eczema or a myriad of other conditions.
How to Tell Eczema Apart from Other Skin Conditions
Symptoms for eczema can overlap, and sometimes coexist, with other skin diseases. One of the most commonly confused ailments is psoriasis. Here are some details to help you tell the two apart, psoriasis vs. eczema:
Both conditions are characterized by itchiness, but psoriasis usually has additional pain and burning that the majority of eczema sufferers don’t feel. It has been described as feeling like a million fire ants biting you.
Both diseases cause red patches of scaly skin. With eczema, there is more oozing and potentially fluid-filled blisters. Psoriasis, on the other hand, is classified with thicker, raised, scaly patches with greater inflammation.
Both disorders can crop up potentially anywhere on the body. However, eczema generally avoids the hands, soles of the feet, and the scalp. Psoriasis isn’t as picky and regularly will appear in those locales. Eczema’s favorite spots to occupy are the bends of the body like elbows and knees.
Both can be triggered by irritants like dyes, fragrances, foods, dust, pets, and pollen. Psoriasis can also be flared by an injury or stressor like vaccines, sunburn, medication, or scratches.
Eczema rears it’s head early on in life, most commonly in babies or small children. Psoriasis is more common to pop up between the ages of 15 and 35.
Treating Eczema on the Ankles
Removing irritants (like clothing which we will cover later) and activators is the first step towards treating eczema on the ankles. Other options that have proven effective include:
- Phototherapy or UV light exposure
- Regular lukewarm (not hot) showers and baths
- Moisturizing with dye- and fragrance-free lotions
- Immunosuppressant medications
- OTC or prescription steroid ointments
Socks for Eczema on Ankles and Feet
For unknown reasons, the ankles and feet are popular places for eczema outbreaks to appear. Sock and shoes can make symptoms worse if they are comprised of itchy fabric like wool or synthetics. Sweat on the feet, if allowed to fester, can also increase symptoms. If you have a sweaty day or have a tendency for wet feet, try switching out your socks throughout the day to maintain dry feet. Sticking to 100% cotton fabrics with zero dyes or fragrances are the best options.
Luckily, the ubiquitous problem has a few companies working on products to make life easier. There are socks available for itchy feet and ankles that are void of allergens and irritating substances.
For example, The Eczema Company has two styles of socks for both adults and kids suffering from eczema. They are:
Hypoallergenic latex-free socks. These are 100% organic cotton and nothing else. The cotton material naturally holds its shape and wicks away moisture without the use of elastic or spandex. Great for individuals allergic to latex or fabric dyes.
RemedyWear. These unisex socks come in both adult and children’s sizes. These are ultra-soft and stretchy to provide a barrier for broken, sensitive, and itchy skin. The fabric is infused with zinc, an anti-inflammatory mineral that eases itchiness and speeds up new skin growth.
Clothing can be an ally in dealing with eczema symptoms. In addition to socks, make conscious choices in the textiles that you wear, opting for loose-fitting (or properly fitted), breathable, and naturally dyed items.
Could Food Allergies Cause Eczema?
As many as 20 to 40 percent of children with an eczema diagnosis also have identified a food allergy. The correlation is too strong to ignore, but the research community hasn’t been able to prove a direct cause of eczema from a food allergy. When you are in the midst of a sleepless night from itching and nothing else has helped, your desperation could send you searching to alternative approaches to managing this condition.
There have been a few studies that showed promising results in children allergic to eggs. When the skin was already addressed, and the eggs were removed from the diet, there were measurable improvements in eczema. Other common allergies with ties to eczema are dairy and peanuts. Less common, but still a possible trigger, are chocolate, berries, tomatoes, and citric fruits.
Professionals agree that removing food allergies could be part of a comprehensive treatment plan, but shouldn’t be substituted for addressing the skin topically.
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