Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a common skin condition that causes itchiness, rashes, dry patches, and infection. It’s a type of dermatitis, which is a group of conditions that can inflame or irritate your skin.
Atopic dermatitis is most common in childhood, although adults may still develop it. There are other forms of the skin condition including:
- Allergic contact dermatitis: This is a skin reaction that occurs following contact with a substance or allergen that the immune system recognizes as foreign.
- Dyshidrotic eczema: This refers to irritation of the skin on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It is characterized by small blisters.
- Neurodermatitis: This leads to scaly patches of skin on the head, forearms, wrists, and lower legs. It occurs due to a localized itch, such as from an insect bite.
- Discoid eczema: Also known as nummular eczema, this type presents itself as circular patches of irritated skin that can be crusted, scaly, and itchy.
- Stasis dermatitis: This refers to skin irritation of the lower leg. It is usually related to circulatory problems.
Symptoms of Atopic dermatitis are mild and can come and go depending on severity. The most common symptoms of Atopic dermatitis include:
- dry, scaly patches of skin
- thickened, discolored skin
- open, crusted, or weeping sores
- skin flushing
People who experience severe itching often end up with skin infections like infected eczema.
There is no known cause of eczema. However, health professionals believe that it may develop from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Children are more likely to develop eczema if a parent has it or another atopic condition. If both parents have an atopic condition, the risk is even higher.
There is currently no cure for Atopic dermatitis. Current treatments aim to heal the affected skin and prevent symptom flare-ups.
Several types of medications may help treat eczema symptoms.
- Topical corticosteroid creams and ointments: These anti-inflammatory medications are applied directly to the skin to help relieve the main symptoms of eczema, such as inflammation and itchiness. They are available as over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications, depending on the strength needed.
- Oral medications: Dr. Monique S. Cohn, DO FAOCD may prescribe systemic corticosteroids or immunosuppressants, which are available as injections or oral tablets. People should only use them for short periods of time. Also, it is important to note that the symptoms may worsen upon stopping these drugs if the person is not already taking another medication for the condition.
- Antibiotics: Prescription antibiotics may be used if eczema occurs alongside a bacterial skin infection.
- Antihistamines: These can reduce the risk of nighttime scratching, as they tend to cause drowsiness.
- Topical calcineurin inhibitors: These medications suppress the immune system, which helps decrease inflammation and prevent flares.
- Barrier repair moisturizers: These reduce water loss and work to repair the skin.
- Phototherapy: This involves exposure to ultraviolet (UV) waves and may help treat moderate AD.
To treat moderate to severe eczema, Dr. Cohn, may prescribe a combination of topical and systemic treatments, such as biologics. Schedule an appointment online at Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Center or by calling 330-425-7600 to develop the best treatment plan.