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When Should You See An Immunologist For Your Red, Itchy Skin?

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If you've recently begun to notice patches of red, itchy skin on your extremities, torso, scalp, or even face, you may be wondering whether it's time to change your laundry detergent or visit a doctor to get a handle on your recent symptoms. While skin irritation (or dermatitis) can be caused by a wide variety of outside irritants and medical conditions, chronic scaly or itchy skin patches that don't respond well to most over-the-counter treatments may be due to eczema. Read on to learn more about this chronic skin condition and how an immunologist -- rather than a dermatologist -- can help you manage its side effects.

How can you tell whether your skin symptoms are due to eczema or another skin disorder?

Eczema can mimic some other ailments but has a few telltale signs, including:

  • Itching in the spot before a rash appears; 
  • Thickened, scaly patches of skin that form and continue to spread for several days before peaking; and 
  • Patches concentrated in moist or extra-warm parts of the body (like the creases of the knees and elbows, armpits, and groin)

If you've noticed several of these symptoms and making minor tweaks to your laundry or bathing routine (or even diet) doesn't seem to have had any effect on how quickly this rash spreads or what parts of your body it affects, you may be dealing with eczema rather than contact dermatitis, psoriasis, or another type of skin disorder.

Why should you seek the assistance of an immunologist rather than a physician who specializes in skin disorders?

Whenever you're dealing with a skin issue, your first instinct may be to make an appointment with a dermatologist. However, because eczema has a strong autoimmune component, an immunologist, like Deyarman Allergy & Asthma Clinic, may be better equipped to help you eradicate your symptoms for good. By conducting a thorough panel of blood work and performing various allergy tests, your immunologist will be able to identify specific triggers that can exacerbate your symptoms and work with you to create a holistic plan for ridding yourself of itchy, scaly skin patches.

Your immunologist's recommended solutions can include dietary or lifestyle changes (as certain inflammatory foods or a lack of solid sleep can make autoimmune disorders worse). They can also include prescription medication to help diminish the physical and mental effect of these skin patches, from anti-itching medication to stronger drugs that dampen the immune system in an attempt to prevent it from turning on your body's own cells.