What is Eczema?

About eczema: Eczema is a term used to represent a broad category of diseases caused by inflammation of the skin. Atopic Dermatitis, the most common form of eczema, typically results in redness, itching and hypersensitivity of the skin.  Associated conditions include hay fever, allergic rhinitis and asthma.  Patients are generally uncomfortable and sleep deprived due to night-time itching.  Lesions may involve the entire skin surface, but most commonly occur on the face, neck, and extremities.  Long standing disease leads to thickening and discoloration of the skin.  Eczema is perhaps the most common inflammatory condition seen by dermatologist.

What Causes Eczema?

As with most dermatologic inflammatory conditions, the exact cause of eczema is unknown.  However, it is believed that certain triggers stimulate the immune system resulting in a heightened state of immune sensitivity.  Common triggers include environmental changes such as cold weather, soaps and detergents, upper respiratory tract infections, certain foods and stress.  Eczema runs in families, typically occurring in conjunction with asthma and seasonal allergies. The condition may develop in patients as early as six months of age.

Eczema Diagnosis and Treatment

The mainstay of treatment involves relieving and preventing itching.  Constant scratching disrupts the normal skin’s barrier, which may lead to secondary infections.  Lotions, oils and vaseline are fantastic lubricants, and are best applied when the skin is wet.  Antihistamines (Benadryl, hydroxyzine) are excellent at controlling the itch-scratch cycle.  Topical and systemic steroids, oral antibiotics, and immunosuppressive therapies (methotrexate, cellcept and cyclosporine) are common therapies.  We also utilize phototherapy (narrow-band UVB) for severe cases. We look forward to sharing our expertise with you and helping you to achieve clearer skin.