Eczema also is known as atopic dermatitis tends to run in families. This suggests a genetic link. It’s also associated with asthma and allergies. These are immune hypersensitivity disorders.
Treatment for this condition is aimed at calming the skin inflammation, decreasing the itching, and preventing infections. Good skin care and medicine to control itching and infection are used.
The exact cause of eczema is not known. It runs in families, which suggests a genetic link. It’s also linked to asthma and allergies. There is likely an alteration of the proteins in the skin that leads to eczema.
Certain triggers can make eczema worse. For example, stress, hot or cold temperature, dry conditions, certain fabrics, or detergents can cause a flare-up.
The area of the body affected by eczema may change with age. In infants and young children, it usually affects the face, outside of the elbows, and on the knees. In older children and adults, it tends to be on the hands and feet, the arms, on the back of the knees, and the folds of the elbows.
Symptoms are slightly different for each person. Common symptoms include:
Too much rubbing and scratching can tear the skin and lead to infection.
The symptoms of eczema may look like other skin conditions. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your provider will ask about your health history and whether you have allergies or asthma. He or she will also ask about any family history of dermatitis, allergies, or asthma.
Your provider can often diagnose eczema by examining your skin. You may also have a patch test. This is used to find allergies by placing small amounts of allergens on the skin and watching for a response. A skin biopsy may also be done to rule out other causes of the rash.
Factors such as your age, overall health, and health history will help your healthcare provider find the best treatment for you.
There is no cure for eczema. The goals of treatment are to reduce itching and inflammation of the skin, to keep the skin moist, and to prevent infection.
Your provider may also prescribe medicines in severe cases. The following are commonly used to treat atopic dermatitis:
Complications of eczema include:
Because the cause of eczema is not known, there is no known way to prevent it. But avoiding triggers may reduce flare-ups.