The dermatologists and practitioners at Dermatology & Skin Cancer Surgery Center are experts in treating and managing common skin conditions, such as eczema. This is a skin condition that is actually a part of a group of skin conditions that is caused by the body’s response to an immune system or allergic reaction. This reaction leads to inflammation of the skin on various parts of the body, including the face, neck, hands, ankles or other areas. This inflammation is also known as dermatitis. There are several types of eczema with the most common form being atopic dermatitis, which is the result of other allergic conditions such as hay fever or asthma. This form usually begins in infancy or childhood but can appear at any time. Contact dermatitis takes on two forms: irritant contact or allergic contact. These forms can appear after a substance irritates or damages the skin.

Symptoms of Eczema

Eczema is most commonly characterized by dry, itchy or red skin, as well as persistent rashes. Usually, a patient’s skin will begin to itch before a rash appears. Most patients will experience patches of skin that are chronically itchy, dry or thickened. These patches can appear anywhere, but mostly occur on the face, neck, hands or legs. With children, patches can appear on the inner creases of the knees and elbows. Once the skin is scratched, dry patches, as well as open sores with crust, could develop which could become infected. Severe symptoms could include pus-filled blisters or a yellowish to light-brown crust developing over existing eczema patches, which could be a sign of a bacterial infection.

What causes Eczema?

Doctors are not entirely sure what causes eczema but it is believed to be triggered by several factors. Immune system abnormalities, genetics, environment, skin irritants and skin barrier defects are the most common causes. Family genetics play a role where certain genes can cause patients to have extremely sensitive skin. A patient with relatives who suffer from asthma or hay fever is at a higher risk of developing eczema. Contact with certain fabrics and soaps, cold, dry climates, heat and sweat and even stress can trigger eczema symptoms. Defects in the skin barrier can allow germs in and moisture out which can also lead to flare-ups.

Treatment for Eczema

Eczema can be treated with a range of over-the-counter or prescribed medication and ointments. Hydrocortisone creams and ointments , as well as antihistamines, such as Benadryl, can be bought to help relieve symptoms. Prescription medications such as steroid creams or immunomodulators may help those with severe eczema. An oral steroid, or corticosteroid, may also be prescribed. In extreme cases, ultraviolet light therapy or laser treatment may also be applied to the affected areas. When other treatments have failed, immunosuppressants may be prescribed since these drugs suppress the immune system.