I’ve been battling eczema for decades, so I know firsthand how frustrating inflammatory skin issues can be. Red skin that looks like you’re always flushed. Itchy, irritated patches. Silvery scales surrounded by angry skin. With a range of symptoms and causes, inflammatory skin issues like psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea can be painful, embarrassing and completely confusing to deal with. Not sure what’s going on with your skin, but suspect one of these conditions? Get yourself to a dermatologist or allergist for a diagnosis and read on for a few key tips.
What it is: An autoimmune disorder in which skin cells grow at an extremely rapid rate, causing raised plaques of skin.
Symptoms: Itchy and painful plaques of red and silvery skin often occurring on the knees, elbows, and scalp. Pitting, discoloration, and crumbling of fingernails and toenails. Pain and swelling in the joints.
Causes: Psoriasis is thought to be the result of an overactive immune system. Like many autoimmune disorders, psoriasis may be partially hereditary but many people with psoriasis don’t have a family member with it.
How to treat it: If you have psoriasis, you’re more likely to experience a flare-up when you’re stressed or rundown, so focusing on your emotional and physical wellness is key. Psoriasis is currently incurable, but can be managed with topical and internal treatments. I recommend gentle exfoliating ingredients like salicylic acid and topical retinoids to encourage the skin to shed dead cells instead of building up plaques. If you have very serious psoriasis, a doctor can also prescribe an oral medication that suppresses the immune system. However, these medications often have serious side effects. Some people also see results with home therapies like Epsom salt baths, aloe vera, and fish oil.
What it is: A chronic sensitive skin condition caused by inflammation that can occur anywhere on the body.
Symptoms: Chronically itchy, red, dry patches of thickened skin that may develop into painful sores or crusts.
Causes: Docs are still trying to get to the bottom of what causes eczema, but it is primarily an allergic reaction, that may be caused by environmental toxins, food, mold, mites, pollen, or products that come in contact with the skin. I recommend seeing an allergist to treat your eczema rather than a dermatologist. An allergist will be able to conduct a blood test to determine food allergies and a patch test to narrow in on any environmental triggers. Eczema may also be caused by abnormal immune function or a depressed immune system.
How to treat it: Let me give it to you straight. I spent years applying all kinds of treatments to try to cure my eczema. Gentle at-home peels, moisturizers, and topical and oral steroids all help with the symptoms; however, I never saw true relief until I completely overhauled my diet after identifying my food intolerances. Every person is different, but don’t rule out diet and lifestyle changes. It worked for me! I also keep my home simple and clean, without carpets and drapes that hold on to dust. You should use an air purifier year round and humidifier during dry months to minimize impurities in the air. Regular at-home peels can help alleviate lingering skin reactions and itch by gently exfoliating dead skin and boosting the skin’s hydration levels. It's also really important to take luke warm showers and immediately apply a heavy moisturizer before your skin completely dries to seal in that hydration. My #1 tip, ice gel packs, they instantly calm and soothe my skin and reduce the urge to scratch. Read my top 11 tips for eczema on this blog post.
What it is: A common skin disease that causes extreme skin redness and generally occurs in people over thirty.
Symptoms: Intense skin redness on the nose, cheeks, and forehea¬¬¬d. Small, acne-like breakouts. Dry and irritated eyes. In very rare cases: permanent skin thickening and knobby bumps on the nose.
Causes: Dermatologists still don’t have rosacea fully figured out, but they think it may be genetic as it mostly occurs in fair-skinned people with sensitive skin. While not caused by drinking, alcohol consumption does exacerbate the appearance of rosacea because it dilates the blood vessels in the face and increases skin redness.
How to treat it: I recommend very gentle products to people with rosacea in order to quell redness and prevent further irritation. Gentle treatments infused with lactic and salicylic acids can help eliminate rosacea acne and help stimulate cell turnover. Intense Pulsed Light or IPL treatments can also help reduce symptoms.