Eczema is a common skin condition in which the skin becomes scaly, itchy and red. It runs in families and is more common in families with a history of allergic reactions, asthma and hay fever, according to the University of Pittsburgh. It most often appears on the neck and in joint areas such as the elbows, knees and wrists. Eczema is an allergic reaction of the body and may be both caused and exacerbated by many chemicals and substances. Treatment is generally through home care, but may also include the use of medication, especially in severe or prolonged cases.
Isopropyl alcohol, or rubbing alcohol as it is more commonly known, is a harsh chemical that negatively affects the skin of many people. Those who either currently have or are prone to bouts of eczema may be especially sensitive to this substance. Isopropyl alcohol evaporates quickly, pulling moisture from the skin as it does so. Those with eczema should avoid using isopropyl alcohol directly, along with avoiding products which contain it as one of the ingredients.
Many products contain isopropyl alcohol, such as antiseptics, disinfectants and even perfumes and some moisturizers. Read the ingredients list on the back of all cosmetic products carefully before using them to avoid further aggravation of eczema. Some people may even notice that using such products will start a eczema rash; these people should avoid using these products as a preventive measure against future outbreaks.
Treating eczema focuses generally on pain relief and moisturizing the skin. Moisturizer should be applied several times a day. Severe cases of eczema may be treated with antihistamines to control the body's reaction to allergens in the environment. Treatment may also focus on removing potentially aggravating substances from the patient's environment. Common culprits include body soaps, shampoos, perfumes, cosmetics, laundry detergent, cleaning products and even air fresheners or carpet-cleaning agents. However, it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of an episode of eczema, and the root problem is often never discovered. If infection appears in any areas, antibiotics may also be prescribed, although this is not usually necessary.
Eczema cannot always be prevented, but keeping the skin well moisturized is the best prevention against the development of this condition. Use gentle cleansers in the shower or tub and reduce showers or baths to every other day if possible. Use a strong moisturizing cream on the body after bathing to lock in moisture. Additional applications of moisturizers or lotions may be needed throughout the day, especially in colder climates where skin dries more quickly due to low temperatures and cold winds. Remember to check all substances you are using for the presence of isopropyl alcohol and other irritating chemicals.
If left untreated, eczema can cause open, oozing lesions to occur on the skin, according to the University of Pittsburgh. At this point, eczema becomes an infection risk. If you are attempting to self-treat eczema, you should consult a physician if it becomes too severe. Likewise, if treatment prescribed by a physician is not working, you should make another visit to the doctor's office for further evaluation and possible adjustments in your treatment plan.