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Dermatology Information and Resources

Eczema

Eczema(also called atopic dermatitis) is characterized by dry, itchy, scaly skin throughout the body. Eczema can become visible via rashes, skin flakiness, and patches of redness.[1] Persistent scratching can irritate the skin making redness and swelling worse.

Common Symptoms: Constant itching that can appear almost anywhere on the body and occurs on a recurring basis. Eczema can become visible via rashes, skin flakiness, bumps, leathery skin, and patches of redness or dark brown spots depending on an individual’s pigmentation.[2] Itching from eczema is prone to worsening at night and bumps can also leak fluid and crust over.

Causes: Eczema has many potential causes, including genetics. In fact, most people develop eczema in early childhood and children under the age of 13 have the most frequent breakouts. People who are prone to allergies, hay fever and asthma are more likely to have eczema flare ups, but it can also occur due to reactions to chemicals and materials that inflame the skin (this is known as contact dermatitis).[3] Dry skin can also trigger eczema.

Treatment: Keeping the skin moisturized is especially important for keeping eczema flare ups at bay, especially with creams like Eucerin or those containing colloidal oatmeal that can prevent itching and promote healing. Use products that are made for sensitive skin, this includes body soap, face wash, lotions, and laundry detergent among others.[4] You’ll also want to get tested for any food allergies that can trigger eczema and reduce your exposure to irritants such as pollen or environmental pollutants. If you are having a flare up and topical solutions aren’t cutting it, using antihistamines can help relieve symptoms.

For cases that are hard to manage at home, a doctor may prescribe:

Prescription strength hydrocortisone ointment or cream if over-the-counter versions aren’t effective enough.

Corticosteroids may be prescribed to tackle severe cases.

Ultraviolet light therapy (also for severe cases)[5]

 
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References

[1] https://medlineplus.gov/eczema.html#cat_78
[2] https://medlineplus.gov/eczema.html#cat_78
[3] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/atopic-dermatitis-eczema/symptoms-causes/syc-20353273
[4] https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/eczema-treatment
[5] https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/eczema/understanding-eczema-treatment#1