Atopic Dermatitis/Eczema

Atopic Dermatitis/Eczema

Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a common inflammatory condition that makes the skin itchy and flaky. Eczema can present anywhere on the body and tends to favor the face, arms, and legs. The condition is caused by a gene variation that decreases the ability of the skin to protect against certain factors and hence causes dryness. Eczema can flare periodically based on allergens, irritants, and environmental factors. Patients with a history of asthma or allergies may experience more severe symptoms.

Eczema can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. It is thought to be caused by overactivity of the body’s immune system during responses to the environment. This condition is very common in children and usually presents before the age of five. Although there are various treatment options, atopic dermatitis tends to be chronic and recurring with periodic flares. Patients often have sensitive skin which can be easily aggravated by environmental factors such dry weather, excessive moisture, household cleaning products, harsh soaps, plants & vegetation, etc. Approximately 60% of children outgrow eczema by early adulthood, but it can persist to adulthood. Adults with eczema tend to have a more chronic and relapsing course.

What are the risk factors?

  • Prior history of eczema
  • Family history
  • Hay fever
  • Asthma
  • Allergies

Are there complications with eczema?

  • Hay fever
  • Asthma
  • Skin infections
  • Irritant hand dermatitis
  • Allergic contact dermatitis
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Chronic scaly, itchy skin

Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis

Though there is no cure for eczema, there are treatments that can relieve its symptoms:

  • Moisturizing creams or ointments: It is important for patients with eczema to keep their skin moisturized to prevent flares. It helps to put on your cream or ointment on right after a bath or shower.
  • Steroid creams and ointments: Topical steroids can be applied to the affected areas of skin to relieve itching and redness. In severe cases, a short course of oral steroids might be prescribed.
  • Medicines that change the way the immune system works (Biologics): These medicines are for people who have larger affected body surface areas or those who do not improve with topical and preventative treatments. A common example of an injectable biologic is called Dupixent.
  • Antihistamines: People often take antihistamines to relieve symptoms associated with allergies. Some people with eczema find that antihistamines relieve itching, but others do not experience relief with antihistamines. Many people with eczema find that itching is worse at night, making it hard to sleep. If you have this problem, your dermatologist can recommend an antihistamine that can also help with sleep.
  • Light therapy: During light therapy, the skin is exposed to a special kind of light called ultraviolet light. This therapy is usually done in a doctor’s office.

If you are experiencing flares or have a history of eczema, our dermatologists can work with you to develop an effective treatment plan and maintenance regimen to keep your skin feeling good.