Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

Eczema, a type of atopic dermatitis, is a common skin condition, commonly occurring on children, that causes symptoms such as redness, dryness, and itching, and is often associated with allergies and asthma. It commonly presents near the elbows and knees, and if the condition is chronic or severe, this persistent rash may cause oozing, scaling, and thickening of the skin. These symptoms flare up when the skin breaks down and becomes too porous. As irritants and allergens penetrate the weakened skin barrier, they trigger the immune system to respond causing inflammation. Eczema infections are common and disease-control may be elusive. People with eczema rash often have other overactive immune responses such as allergies and asthma.

Dermatological Eczema Treatments

The treatment of atopic dermatitis includes close consultation with an experienced primary-care physician or dermatologist. The treatment plan often includes moisturizers, topical steroids, anti-inflammatory agents, oral anti-itching medications, and perhaps oral immunosuppressive agents.

If you or your child has this skin rash, there are some treatments available that may help, that your dermatologist may advise or prescribe. Here are some possible Eczema treatments:

  • Skin moisturizers (preferably oil based ointments – traditional treatments like aqueous cream BP contain surfactants that may actually worsen symptoms)
  • Steroid creams
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Anti-histamines (to temporarily relieve itching)
  • Elidel and Protopic (new, non-steroid drugs that affect the immune response)
  • UV light therapy (also called phototherapy)
  • Weekly lukewarm baths with 1/2 cup of bleach per a full tub of water

Environmental Considerations

Lifestyle and environmental changes can help reduce eczema flare-ups for some patients. Consider doing the following:

  • Keep room temperatures slightly cool and use a humidifier
  • Strive to create a dust free environment (reducing allergens like pet dander and dust mites)
  • Minimize the use of harsh chemicals such as household cleaners
  • Avoid personal care products (soaps, shampoo, etc.) that contain fragrances
  • Choose cotton clothing that is soft to the touch

Be consistent with your skin care regimen and don’t give up. It may take some experimentation with the help of your dermatologist to find the right combination of treatments to keep symptoms under control.

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