What always follows the dry, cracked skin is eczema. Growing up, I did not have much of a problem with eczema, though I did have a brother who broke out in rashes (determined to be eczema) behind his knees and elbows. He has since outgrown that condition, but I eventually developed a different form of eczema. I have the type called dishydrotic eczema. This type does not have the raised red spots usually found in the common form of eczema. I have little fluid-filled bumps under the skin – sometimes they do become raised – that are extremely itchy. Many times I am tempted to pop these bubbles and it helps temporarily, but they return and sometimes I am convinced that they are worse. So I try to avoid popping them. Sometimes I am able to control the eczema by treating the dry skin as best I can. This means using tons of lotions, treating cracks with medicated lip balm (I like Carmex), and using itch creams when the bumps appear.
Doctors have found that the incidence of eczema has risen over the years. I wonder if it may be due to environmental problems that are causing drier skin. I’m sure global warming experts will say it is. Eczema is lined to asthma and allergies. All of these conditions involve some type of inflammatory response to triggers. With the rise in eczema, doctors are concerned that there will be a rise in asthma and allergies. Some doctors theorise that eczema causes breaks in the natural skin barrier, which protects the body from infections, which can lead to conditions like asthma and allergies. They hope that if eczema can be controlled, asthma and allergies can be prevented.
But the association between the three is not so easily defined as that theory suggests. I had problems with asthma and allergy before I even developed eczema. In some families, one may have asthma, another allergic rhinitis, and another eczema. So it does not necessarily follow that an eczema sufferer will develop the other two conditions; however, they may be prone to it. And vice versa.
Over the years, my asthma and allergy have improved – I have never had to take medication for them, except an occasional allergy pill over-the-counter. But every year, I know I will have to deal with eczema. Though the three conditions can be found in me, the association between them are still not clearly defined. They do run in families – I saw that in my family growing up and I’m seeing it in my own family now. And our worst problem is eczema. There is no cure for eczema, but at least I have means to help control it.