What is eczema?
Eczema is a chronic skin condition characterized by itchy, inflamed patches of red scaly skin. Because this condition is so itchy, patients often scratch their skin continually, causing lesions that can become crusty and ooze. Since the skin can’t retain moisture properly, this means that it’s easier for bacteria to invade the skin. The result is the red, bumpy, scaly, and patchy skin associated with eczema. When eczema is severe, the skin can crack, bleed, and become crusted. It generally appears as a rash on the arms and behind the knees but can appear anywhere on the body, including the face.
Who gets eczema?
Eczema affects people of all races, genders and ages. It is thought to be hereditary and is not contagious. Eczema usually begins during childhood and is known to be a hereditary condition that flares up periodically then subsides. Most infants who develop the condition outgrow it by their tenth birthday, while some people continue to have symptoms on and off throughout life. With proper treatment, the disease often can be controlled.
What causes eczema?
The cause of eczema remains unknown, but it usually has physical, environmental or lifestyle triggers. Coming into contact with a trigger, such as wind or an allergy-producing fabric, launches the rash and inflammation. Although it is possible to get eczema only once, the majority of cases are chronic and are characterized by intermittent flare-ups throughout a person’s life.
How to test for eczema
Patch testing is a great solution to help find the cause of eczema. Possible irritants are applied as patches and placed on the skin to determine any possible allergic reactions. Testing is performed in the office to determine a specific irritant for patients with contact dermatitis. Patients requiring extensive testing will meet with our onsite allergist.
How to prevent eczema
The best form of prevention is to identify and remove the trigger. You should also use mild cleansers and keep your skin well moisturized at all times. Also avoid scratching the rash (which can lead to infection) and situations that make you sweat, such as strenuous exercise.
How to treat eczema
Our highly-skilled team of medical professionals, along with our state-of-the-art technology and treatments, can smooth areas of rough skin that may appear as a result of various conditions, such as eczema. We offer a variety of treatment options to heal and soothe your skin. If you are experiencing rough skin the Affiliated Dermatology team will create a customized treatment plan that specifically targets your skin issue(s), using treatments such as topical skin care products, chemical peels and more. The results are healthy-looking skin that is smooth, soft and blemish-free.
For mild cases, over-the-counter topical creams and antihistamines can relieve the itching. In persistent cases, a dermatologist will likely prescribe stronger medicine, such as steroid creams, oral steroids (corticosteroids), antibiotic pills or antifungal creams to treat any potential infection.
Corticosteroid Creams or Ointments are commonly used to relieve people from scaling and extreme itching. Topical corticosteroid creams and ointments are available with or without a prescription but may cause harmful side effects if not used correctly. Speaking with a skincare professional at Affiliated Dermatology is recommended so that we can suggest the best option for your specific needs.
Antibiotics are often used to treat bacterial infections, open sores, or cracking in the skin caused by frequent scratching. A skincare professional from Affiliated Dermatology can prescribe antibiotics for a length of time based on the condition of your skin issue and your specific needs. Taking the required antibiotics for the recommended time will continue to prevent infections from reoccurring.
Oral Antihistamines are ideal for those suffering from severe itching. Certain types of medications make you sleepy, helping not only to eliminate itching itself but also helping anyone whose sleep is affected by the continuous sensation to scratch. Finally, get a good night’s sleep and relief from scratching by taking a simple oral antihistamine.
Oral or Injected Corticosteroids are used for extreme cases of itching. Oral corticosteroid prescription or simple corticosteroid injections are performed to reduce inflammation and control the severe itching sensation. Although this treatment is effective for eczema, it is used as a short-term solution due to potential long-term usage side effects.
Types of eczema
Eczema is a term for a group of medical conditions that cause the skin to become inflamed or irritated. Eczema takes on different forms depending on the nature of the trigger and the location of the rash. While they all share some common symptoms like itchiness there are differences. The following are some of the most common types of eczema.
Atopic Dermatitis is the most frequent form of eczema and is thought to be caused by abnormal functioning of the body’s immune system. It is characterized by itchy, inflamed skin. Atopic dermatitis tends to run in families. About two-thirds of the people who develop this form of eczema do so before the age of one. Atopic dermatitis generally flares up and recedes intermittently throughout the patient’s life.
Contact Dermatitis is caused when the skin comes into contact with an allergy-producing agent or an irritant, such as chemicals. Finding the triggering allergen is important to treatment and prevention. Allergens can be things like laundry detergent, cosmetics, jewelry, fabrics, perfume, diapers, and poison ivy or poison sumac.
Dyshidrotic Dermatitis is a type of eczema that strikes the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It produces clear, deep blisters that itch and burn. Dyshidrotic dermatitis occurs most frequently during the summer months and in warm climates.
Neurodermatitis, also known as Lichen Simplex Chronicus, is a chronic skin inflammation caused by a continuous cycle of scratching and itching in response to a localized itch, like a mosquito bite. It creates scaly patches of skin, most commonly on the head, lower legs, wrists or forearms. Over time, the skin may become thickened and leathery.
Nummular Dermatitis is a form of eczema that appears as round patches of irritated skin that may be crusted, scaly and extremely itchy. Nummular dermatitis most frequently appears on the arms, back, buttocks and lower legs, and is usually a chronic condition.
Seborrheic Dermatitis is a common condition that causes yellowish, oily and scaly patches on the scalp, face or other body parts. Dandruff, in adults, and cradle cap, in infants, are both forms of seborrheic dermatitis. Unlike other types of eczema, seborrheic dermatitis does not necessarily itch. It tends to run in families. Known triggers include weather, oily skin, emotional stress, and infrequent shampooing.
Stasis Dermatitis, also known as varicose eczema, is a form of eczema is a skin irritation that appears on the lower legs of middle-aged and elderly people. It is related to circulation and vein problems. Symptoms include itching and reddish-brown discoloration of the skin on one or both legs. As the condition progresses, it can lead to blistering, oozing and skin lesions.
Request an Appointment
Could that itchy, scaly, bumpy rash be eczema? At Affiliated Dermatology, located across the Valley in Scottsdale, Deer Valley, Old Town, Anthem, Surprise, Gilbert, Ahwatukee, and Tempe, AZ, our providers offer eczema relief for adults and children throughout the greater Phoenix area. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact us by calling (480) 556-0446 or leaving us a message with the contact form below.