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Q&A: Does cat fur and dander cause eczema?

Consumer Reports News: February 02, 2010 06:08 AM

I began suffering from the intense itching and swelling of eczema after acquiring two cats. But my allergist says cat fur and dander don’t cause eczema. Is that correct? —T.C., Boston

Yes. An allergy to animal dander or fur won’t cause eczema, but it can trigger flareups in people who already have or have had it. If you don’t want to give up your cats, try controlling symptoms by frequently applying a moisturizer such as Vaseline Intensive Care Dry Skin, avoiding extra-hot water and scratchy materials such as wool, and using only mild soap, such as Cetaphil or Dove.

If the condition persists, your doctor may recommend either an antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl Allergy) or doxepin cream (Zonalon); a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory ointment or cream such as tacrolimus (Protopic); or a corticosteroid ointment such as hydrocortisone (Cortaid, Cortizone). Note that corticosteroids can’t be used long-term because they can thin the skin and—if used around the eyes—may cause cataracts or glaucoma.

Read more on  some things that can trigger eczema and make it worse , take a look at what you can do to prevent flare ups , and find out what drug and non-drug treatments work best  (subscribers only).

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