Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

An estimated 35 million Americans endure the itchy rash of eczema. Up to 20 percent of all children experience it. Some will outgrow it, while others will have chronic symptoms throughout adulthood. Atopic dermatitis usually shows up on the face, scalp, feet, and hands of babies while children tend to get eczema behind the knees and inside the elbows, and adults often have eczema on the hands. The condition is not contagious, but it runs in families with very sensitive skin or with a known history of asthma, eczema, and allergic rhinitis.

Atopic dermatitis is associated with intense itching. Skin may redden, flake, and become rough and scaly. In some cases oozing blisters form, or deep, painful fissures (cracks) develop. While atopic dermatitis is not an allergic reaction, patients with this type of skin inflammation are likely to have “hay fever,” allergic rhinitis or asthma. Proper treatment brings relief and helps prevent secondary infection from scratching, so accurate diagnosis by a board certified dermatologist is essential.

There is no simple test to identify eczema. Our doctors can perform thorough examination of your rash and talk with you about indications and family history. While symptoms are similar, they may determine that you have another type of eczema, such as contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic dermatitis, nummular dermatitis, neurodermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, or stasis dermatitis.

In addition to genetic factors, eczema is most common in children born to older women, in cold climates, and in polluted urban locations. Flare-ups are caused by stress, sweating, and dry climates (hot or cold). Other triggers may include contact with cigarette smoke, synthetics, wool, harsh soaps, cleansers, fragrances, cosmetics, chlorine, solvents, dust, sand, allergens (pet dander, mold, pollen), and colds, flu or bacterial infections.

Patients may be asked to make some lifestyle changes such as shorter, cooler showers and stress reduction. Our doctors will advise gentle skin care techniques using mild soap and moisturizers to soothe your eczema. More severe cases may be treated topically with hydrocortisone or immunomodulator creams. Oral antihistamines, corticosteroids, or immunosuppressant medications may also be options.

Effective, professional relief is available. Call today for an appointment at the Lupo Center for Aesthetic and General Dermatology.

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