Atopic Dermatitis: What Causes Eczema on the Elbows & Behind the Knees?
Eczema is a group of conditions that cause inflammation (or rash) of the skin. There are seven different types of Eczema, each with several different identifying names and each with a variety of symptoms and different triggers (or causes). None of the different types of eczema are contagious, and regardless of the type of eczema, the physical appearance often looks different on different people. There is no known cure for eczema and their lots of different ideas on how to treat eczema depending on the severity and type.
- Common Eczema: the skin becomes dry, itchy, and red. Many people feel a burning sensation of the skin.
- Weeping Eczema: patches of skin become red, scaly and itchy. Sometimes, tiny blisters containing clear fluid can form and the affected areas of skin can weep. Weeping is a sign that dermatitis has become infected, usually with the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus ('golden staph'). As the fluid drains the skin usually becomes crusted over.
- Thick scaly eczema: or Lichen Simplex Chronicus – neurodermatitis treatment. Not scratching and rubbing the affected areas is key to healing the skin. These symptoms are typical for people that have chronic eczema where the skin tends to become very thick and scaly in lichen simplex chronicus, stronger steroids may be required.
Atopic Dermatitis (or eczema) is the most common type in infants, many of whom outgrow it (approximately 60%) before adulthood. Typically, eczema causes the skin to become itchy, red, and dry -- even cracked and leathery over time. Eczema can be very uncomfortable, typified by an urge to itch. Scratching the skin can begin a vicious itch-scratch cycle. Reckless scratching an affected area can cause further inflammation and the eczema rash can start to bleed and even become infected. Eczema can appear on any part of the body including around the eyes, on the head, feet, hands, all over the body, around the genitals and on backs (or creases) of the elbow and/or knees. If you suspect your child has eczema it is highly recommended that you seek the professional medical advice of a pediatrician who can typically treat most mild and some moderate eczema conditions or a board-certified dermatologist for moderate to severe eczema conditions.
Common Symptoms of moderate eczema in the creases or behind the elbow and behind the knee:
Figure 1: Eczema (or Dermatitis) Behind the Elbow
Figure 2: Eczema (or Atopic Dermatitis) in the Creases Behind the Knees
Visible Eczema Symptoms: What does eczema look like?
- Red, scaly areas or rashes that can look like skin discoloration
- Rough, bumpy, sores that can weep fluid and dry out and become crusted over
- Irritated rashes that are inflamed skin that can resemble a sunburn
How to Treat Eczema in the Creases Behind Elbows and Behind Knees?
One of the most common places on the body for Atopic Dermatitis to appear is on the backs of elbows and/or behind knees in an area called the creases. The creases of elbows and knees are susceptible to eczema related irritation because this is where sweat and salt build-up and skin rubs against skin. Anything that causes sweating can irritate the rash and these two areas of the body are prone to perspiration, even in infants. Also, the friction from clothing and other trapped irritants can further irritate this area and foster the persistence of Atopic Dermatitis.
Eczema behind elbows and eczema behind knees can be especially challenging since they are easy areas to scratch, and therefore eczema in these areas of the body can become easily inflamed, and persistent scratching can damage sensitive skin, making it more prone to infection and further complications including life-long scarring.
Eczema Tip: Keep fingernails cut short and smooth to prevent skin damage. Cover fingers during sleep to prevent scratching.
Untreated, Dermatitis behind elbows and dermatitis behind knees in the creases cause almost constant discomfort whenever the arm or leg bends during regular activities. Further, the friction from harsh clothing material against the sensitive skin in these areas will increase the intensity of the urge to itch and can be a major distraction during the day or a problem at night going to sleep. Eczema on the elbows and knees should be treated as soon as it is identified and regularly thereafter until the rash disappears to prevent further irritation and pain.
Eczema Treatment: What to do about Treating Baby Eczema in the Creases Behind Elbows and Behind Knees?
Clean Eczema Skin Rash: Gently wash the irritated area with purified lukewarm water and a soft, clean cotton cloth. A Hypochlorous solution like SkinSmart Antimicrobial® can be an excellent way to initially treat the rash and minimize the urge to scratch the itch. It’s mild, fragrance-free, hypoallergenic and eliminates harmful bacteria that can lead to infections.
Moisturize the Irritated Skin: Carefully rub a generous amount of a high-quality moisturizer like Vaniply® from Pharmaceutical Specialties, Inc. into the irritated areas. Vaniply is a mild and gentle ointment that helps soothe dry, irritated, itchy skin without a greasy feel. Vaniply will help prevent water loss, relieve and prevent dry, chapped, and cracked skin.
Eczema Dry Wrap Bandage or Wet Wrap Therapy: Cover the irritated area with a special bandage, either as a dry wrap therapy or wet wrap therapy that will not only protect the affected areas from further irritation and damage but also increase the efficacy of the moisturizing ointment that has just been applied. Because the elbows and knees are joints and need to free to move they can be difficult to properly and comfortably cover. Specialty garments made from TEWLTect™ a highly breathable cooling fabric holds 50% of its weight in water without feeling damp is made from TENCEL® an eco-friendly, sustainable fiber enhanced with Chitosan and Zinc Oxide that helps control bacteria growth and speed the skins healing process from Soothems are recommended by dermatologist as being more effective than cotton or silk for treating eczema. The Soothems specially designed eczema therapy arm & leg sleeves are tapered to fit the limb and are therefore an excellent way to wrap these hard to cover areas comfortably. They can be used dry or wet under regular clothes.
This process should be repeated at least twice a day and for as long as the skin irritation is visible. If the condition does not start visibly getting better or discomfort and itching persist consult your healthcare professional immediately.
Eczema Tip: Use special eczema therapy arm and leg sleeves
How to Properly Wet Wrap: Step by Step Wet Wrap Therapy Instructions for Moderate to Severe Eczema Flare-ups:
Wet wrapping therapy is a highly effective method for delivery itch relief quickly. You should always consult your advising medical professional before attempting a wet wrap.
- Bathe and pat skin dry before applying emollients, lotions or creams to affected areas as directed by a healthcare professional.
- Never leave a child unattended in a bath or around water.
- For comfort keep ambient room temperature between 68oF/20oC - 78oF/25oC when using Soothems and wet wrapping.
- Soak the Soothems garment in warm water. Squeeze out excess water; you want garment damp, not soaking wet.
- Soothems garments should fit snugly, but comfortable.
- Cover the affected areas with the warm, damp Soothems garment.
- Then cover the damp Soothems garment with a dry layer of Soothems garment or regular sleepwear.
- Depending on the dry over the garment’s design, it will generally be more comfortable for your child to wear a slightly larger size for the second layer.
- Discontinue the use of wet wrap therapy and Soothems garments and contact a qualified healthcare professional at the first signs of irritation, rash or discomfort.
- If rewetting is necessary during treatment, use a gentle spray bottle with clean, warm water to dampen the fabric or completely remove garment and re-soak in warm water, removing excess water before redressing.
- Consult a healthcare professional regarding the length of treatment.