Asteatotic eczema, also called eczema craquelé or xerotic eczema, is a skin condition characterized by dry, cracked, itchy skin. Here are four things you need to know about asteatotic eczema.
What are the signs of asteatotic eczema?
If you have asteatotic eczema, you'll notice that areas of your skin are dry, cracked, and scaly. These areas will be intensely itchy, and when you itch them, red, raised lesions known as plaques will develop on your skin. These plaques are caused by excessive scratching.
This condition tends to occur during the winter months and is usually seen on the skin of the lower legs. It's more common among elderly people who already have dry skin.
What causes asteatotic eczema?
Asteatotic eczema occurs when your skin loses too much water, becomes overly dry, and cracks. A wide variety of factors can lead to this situation. Winter weather (low humidity and cold temperatures) can lead to this condition since this type of weather increases the water loss from your skin, leading to dryness. Taking a lot of hot showers can also dry out your skin, especially if you don't apply lotion to your skin afterwards. Exposure to degreasing cleansers, like dish soaps, can also lead to this condition.
Numerous health conditions can also lead to asteatotic eczema, including nutritional deficiencies, thyroid disease, neurological disorders, or cancers like lymphoma or breast cancer. Some medical treatments, like radiation or antiandrogen therapy, can also have this effect.
What complications can asteatotic eczema cause?
Scratching your skin will temporarily relieve the intense itch, but it can also break open your skin. Broken skin is vulnerable to bacteria, viruses, and fungi in the environment, so infections are a major concern. If you itch enough to break your skin, wash the area well and protect it with a bandage while it heals.
Intense itching can also make it hard for you to sleep properly. You may find yourself waking up during the night to scratch your skin. This intense itching can also be very distracting during the daytime and can decrease your focus at work.
How is it treated?
This condition is treated by addressing the causes. During the winter, use humidifiers to counteract the overly-dry winter air. Try to take shorter showers to avoid drying out your skin, and after your shower, apply lotion. Lotions that contain dimethicone or ammonium lactate are best for this purpose, according to Consultant360.
If over-the-counter lotions aren't enough, your dermatologist can prescribe a lotion that contains corticosteroids to help control the itch and inflammation.
If you think you have asteatotic eczema, see a dermatologist right away. Click here for more information on this and other skin conditions.