Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition that is difficult to diagnose, as symptoms tend to come and go. However, eczema is commonly described as a skin rash characterized by redness, swelling and intense itching. Although no cure exists, eczema symptoms can be reduced through an ongoing treatment regimen.
Eczema tends to be hereditary and typically occurs in conjunction with allergies, including asthma and hay fever. While it is commonly seen in infants, most children no longer experience eczema symptoms after age two. If eczema symptoms continue throughout adolescence and adulthood, the characteristics and severity of symptoms may fluctuate.
Controlling stress and anxiety may help improve eczema symptoms, however psychological factors are merely triggers and do not cause eczema. Changes in temperature, as well as exposure to water and environmental irritants and detergents, may trigger eczema symptoms as well.
Most patients with eczema experience combinations of the following symptoms, often depending on the severity of their case:
Patches of dry, scaly skin ranging in size from a pen tip to a half dollar should be checked out by a dermatologist to prevent an occurrence of actinic keratosis from going untreated and progressing into a more serious skin condition.
Oral antihistamines, such as Benadryl, are used to treat severe allergic itching associated with eczema, and oral corticosteroids, such as prednisone, may be prescribed to treat acute eczema outbreaks.
Topical corticosteroids may be used to relieve skin inflammation and itching in the short term, however for long-term topical inflammation and itch relief, non-steroid immunosuppressant creams like Elidel or Protopic may be recommended.
Minimizing exposure to soaps and detergents, using gentle, soothing skin care products and keeping skin moisturized may also be an important part of treating your eczema.