Eczema / Atopic Dermatitis

Eczema / Atopic Dermatitis

Eczema is a term for rash-like skin conditions. The most common form of eczema is atopic dermatitis, and it’s seen by dermatologists quite frequently. It often begins in babies and children before age five, and our pediatric dermatology experts can help diagnose and treat it. It may be outgrown, or can remain a chronic issue, flaring periodically throughout life. Your Advanced Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery physician or other provider who specializes in eczema can diagnose it and, while there is no cure, there are treatments to alleviate symptoms.

What is Eczema?

The main symptoms of eczema are dry skin with intense itching and a red rash. It usually appears on the face, inside the elbows, behind the knees and on hands and feet. Scratching can make the skin red and swollen, and even more itchy. Scratching can also break the skin, allowing bacteria to enter causing an infection. It’s important to break the cycle of itching and scratching in order to control and prevent flares of eczema.

Can I do Anything to Help Prevent Flares?

Avoiding certain environmental and physiologic triggers associated with flares and meticulous skin care are crucial to every successful treatment plan. Some of the more common triggers to avoid might include irritants (such as household cleaners, products and soaps), allergens (such as pets, pollens, dust mites and molds), foods (such as dairy, wheat, eggs, nuts, soy, and certain juices from fresh fruit, vegetables, meats and fishes), certain temperatures (hot weather, high or low humidity, and perspiration), clothing (wool, synthetic materials that make you sweat), stress and hormones. Working with your ADCS physician or eczema specialist to determine your triggers will help minimize flares and the need for treatment.

What Causes Eczema?

Eczema’s exact cause is not known. It is not contagious so you can’t catch it or give it to somebody. The primary risk factors are having a personal or family history of eczema, allergies, hay fever or asthma.

Healthy, unaffected skin usually retains sufficient moisture and protects you from external bacteria, allergens and irritants. If you have a certain gene variation, however, your skin can be affected by those external factors and you may develop eczema.  

How do you Treat Eczema

How do you Treat Eczema?

Therapies for atopic dermatitis vary based on severity, symptoms, and patient preference. Your ADCS physician may suggest:

  • Recommended lifestyle changes and over-the-counter therapies, such as daily moisturizers
  • Prescription-strength topical medications, mainly steroids
  • IPL - light-based treatments, phototherapy
  • Oral medications, such as steroids, antibiotics, antihistamines and immunosuppressants
  • Alternative and natural therapies
  • Participation in clinical trials for the development of new treatments

Your prescribed therapy plan will be developed with your physician and may include more than one of these alternatives to help you achieve clear, itch-free skin.

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