Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is a condition where patches of skin become inflamed, itchy, red, cracked, and rough. Blisters may sometimes occur. It’s common in children but can occur at any age. Atopic dermatitis is long lasting (chronic) and tends to flare periodically. It may be accompanied by asthma or hay fever. No cure has been found for atopic dermatitis, but treatments and self-care measures can relieve itching and prevent new outbreaks. For example, it helps to avoid harsh soaps, moisturize your skin regularly, and apply medicated creams or ointments.
Symptoms of eczema can vary, but most people experience the following during a flareup:
- Rashes on the cheeks or scalp (infants)
- Itchy rashes that may wake you up from sleep
- Rashes in the creases of the elbows, knees, neck, wrists, and ankles
- Rashes on the face or around the eyes
- Very dry skin
- Skin infections
While the exact cause of eczema is unknown, it can develop due to genetic and environmental factors. Eczema is not contagious, so being around or touching someone with the condition does not mean you will get it. Eczema can be passed down from parent to child through genetics.
There are a variety of environmental factors that can bring on symptoms of eczema. People with eczema have different triggers. Managing eczema involves pinpointing your triggers and avoiding them. The most common environmental triggers that cause eczema flareups are:
- Allergens such as pollen, pet dander, mold, and dust mites
- Extreme environments such as very hot, cold, or humid locations
- Certain foods such as eggs, nuts, seeds, wheat, and soy
- Hormonal changes such as certain points during the menstrual cycle or during pregnancy
- Irritants such as harsh soaps, shampoos, disinfectants, and detergents
Eczema treatment involves, first and foremost, avoiding your triggers. By avoiding triggers, you can decrease the frequency and severity of your flareups.
Treatment also involves making lifestyle changes, like avoiding extreme temperatures, using moisturizing lotion, wearing cotton and soft fabrics, using a humidifier in the winter, and adjusting your diet (if your triggers are some foods).
If your eczema needs further treatment, a dermatologist can prescribe a variety of medications, depending on your age, eczema condition, triggers, and more. Some of the most popular and effective medications that help with eczema are:
- Antihistamines – help reduce the body’s response to irritants and can help reduce nighttime scratching
- Corticosteroids – available in medication and cream forms. They help reduce inflammation and itchiness.
- Antiviral and antifungal medications – help treat fungal and viral infections which can trigger eczema.
- Antibiotics – A common symptom of eczema is infection caused by too much scratching. Antibiotics treat infections.
- Calcineurin inhibitors – These drugs suppress the immune system’s activities, so you experience less eczema flareups.
Children’s Skin Center
The Children’s Skin Center is South Florida’s premier pediatric dermatology practice. We treat patients of all ages with all types of dermatological needs. If you or your child has eczema, visit us today to get effective treatment and relief. Make an appointment by calling us at (305) 669-6555. You can also request an appointment online. We look forward to serving you soon!