With over 30 million Americans suffering from eczema, it is one of the most common skin conditions in the country. Eczema, also referred to as “atopic dermatitis,” presents on the skin as an itchy, red rash. Do you have eczema? Many people mistake their dry or red skin for eczema, but the only way to get a true diagnosis for eczema is to see a dermatologist. Most forms of eczema are defined by an extreme itchiness that plagues the sufferer.
What causes eczema?
Research shows that eczema is generally a genetic condition, affecting both children and adults alike. There is no definitive cause for eczema, but it is linked to the immune system dysfunction and a breakdown of the barrier cells on the skin. The itch-scratch-rash cycle that comes with eczema will worsen your condition. While the exact cause of eczema remains unknown, we do know certain triggers that can worsen eczema, including:
• Hot or cold temperatures
• Soaps and detergents
It’s thought that eczema is part of an “atopic triad,” which also includes hay fever and asthma. The sooner you seek out treatment from a dermatologist, the better off your skin will be.
Types of eczema
The term eczema is used to describe all types of dermatitis conditions. The common trait of eczema is that the skin is red and itchy and may peel, weep or blister. The areas on the body where eczema is most commonly found are the face, inside the elbows and backs of the knees, though eczema can really affect anywhere on the body.
There are various forms of eczema, including:
• Atopic dermatitis
• Contact dermatitis
• Nummular eczema
• Seborrheic dermatitis
• Dyshidrotic eczema
• Stasis dermatitis
Eczema symptoms will vary from person to person. A rash caused by eczema can look different depending on which area of the body it’s affecting. One of the defining characteristics of eczema is its intense itch. During an eczema flare, some people scratch their skin so intensely that it bleeds. Eczema’s itch-scratch-cycle is what makes it particularly uncomfortable.
The most common eczema symptoms include:
• An intense itch
• Inflamed and red skin
• Swollen areas
• Scaling on the skin
• Sensitive skin
• Dry skin
• Patches of rough or darkly colored skin
It’s important to keep in mind that the only way to get a legitimate diagnosis of eczema is by seeing a dermatologist.
Many people with eczema will purchase over the counter (OTC) creams, lotions and ointments to treat their skin. Some of these medications may contain allergenic or irritating ingredients that will exacerbate the eczema. For this reason, it’s imperative to consult with a dermatologist prior to using any products on your skin. At Schweiger Dermatology Group, we specialize in the medical treatment of eczema and will devise a skincare regimen that will safely treat your eczema. Our effective eczema medications include topical steroids, topical immunomudulators, antibiotics, antifungal and anti-inflammatory drugs.