Autumn has arrived and the mercury is falling. A common, annoying, itchy condition seen with increased incidence in cooler, dryer weather is asteatotic or dry skin eczema. It is particularly common in the elderly and often most pronounced on the extremities, especially the shins. Fortunately, simple measures are available to treat this condition.
We agree with the following recommendations adapted from emedicine.medscape.com:
- Take short baths with decreased water temperature.
- Eliminate or reduce the use of soap on the involved areas.
- Avoid harsh skin cleansers.
- Apply petrolatum-based emollients following bathing, and use moisturizing agents liberally.
- Topical steroid creams or ointments can be used for short periods. Note that steroids can thin the skin and lower the threshold for further insults that lead to dermatitis, especially in elderly patients. Topical steroids (except for mild OTC hydrocortisone) requires a prescription from your physician.
- Use humidifiers.