What Is Eczema?

Other Skin Conditions, Skin Center
on October 23, 2011

What’s itchy, scaly and red all over? If you answered eczema, you’re correct! Eczema is a common skin condition that is often chronic. If you’ve been diagnosed as having eczema, you’re not alone and there’s plenty you can do about it. Discover the facts about eczema and gain control of your health in the process.

Eczema can appear anywhere. Atopic dermatitis (eczema) may show up on any part of the body, but it is typically located on the arms, knees, groin, neck, wrists and ankles. The Mayo Clinic states that eczema is a chronic condition that tends to come and go in episodes. These flares can be managed by mitigating stress, avoiding irritants like certain soaps or itchy fabrics, and by visiting your doctor for careful monitoring and management.

The causes of eczema are uncertain. The Mayo Clinic also reports that eczema is likely a result of a confluence of irritable dry skin, along with a misguided immune response and a genetic predisposition. Stress, emotions and environmental conditions can worsen the symptoms.

Symptoms of eczema are irritating — literally. The indications of eczema include red and even brown splotches of skin. The affected areas are typically itchy, raw and tender, especially in the evening. Tiny, rash-like, fluid-filled bumps can also appear and crust over when scratched.

Treatments for eczema offer relief. Unfortunately, there is no fail-safe cure for the condition. Eczema treatments are meant to reduce inflammation and prevent flare-ups. Your doctor may recommend beginning with over-the-counter corticosteroid creams and antihistamines like diphenhydramine. If these treatments fail to manage the symptoms sufficiently, you may need to speak with your doctor about antibiotic therapy and oral or injected corticosteroids. In severe cases, immunomodulators like tacrolimus and pimecrolimus have been prescribed in order to get eczema symptoms under control. Phototherapy has also shown to be promising, but the risks of sunlight or UV therapy should always be weighed against the benefits with your physician before deciding upon any treatment plan.