What is Eczema?
Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a condition that causes the skin to become red and itchy. It is a chronic condition that flares periodically and then clears up for a period of time. This condition is common in infants and children but can occur at any age. Eczema is related to a gene variation that affects your skin’s ability to retain moisture and provide protection from bacteria, allergens, and irritants. Individuals with a family history of eczema, hay fever, asthma, or allergies are at a higher risk for this condition.
Common eczema symptoms include:
- Dry, itchy skin
- Red or brown-gray patches of skin
- Small, raised bumps that, when scratched, may leak fluid and crust over
- Thick, scaly, cracked skin
- Raw, swollen, sensitive skin due to scratching
Who is a Good Candidate for Eczema Treatment?
Individuals with eczema that causes itching, discomfort, pain, or self-consciousness can benefit from eczema treatment. An assessment is needed by one of our dermatologists to diagnose and treat eczema. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.
What to Expect During Eczema Treatment?
There is currently no cure for eczema, but there are many treatments available to help prevent symptoms and new outbreaks. Treatment options include:
- Creams to control itching and inflammation: Corticosteroid creams or ointments may be prescribed. For severe eczema, wrapping the affected area with topical corticosteroids and wet bandages can be effective in improving symptoms. Other creams containing calcineurin inhibitors or phosphodiesterase inhibitors target the immune system to control the skin reaction. Be sure to follow your dermatologist’s instructions on how to properly use these medications.
- Medications to fight infection: Antibiotic creams may be prescribed if your skin has open sores, cracks, or bacterial infection. Oral antibiotics may also be recommended.
- Oral drugs to control inflammation: For severe eczema, oral corticosteroids such as prednisone may be prescribed. These drugs are very effective, but cannot be taken long term due to potentially serious side effects. Other oral therapies our group utilizes include cyclosporine, methotrexate, mycophenolate mofetil, and azathioprine.
- Biologic therapy: The FDA has approved dupilumab (Dupixent) as an injectable biologic for uncontrolled moderate-severe atopic dermatitis (eczema). It is used for those 6 years of age and older who do not respond well to other standard treatments.
- In-Office Therapy
- Phototherapy: This light therapy involves exposing the skin to controlled and specific wavelengths of ultraviolet light. Our office primarily utilizes advanced narrow-band ultraviolet B phototherapy to treat our eczema patients. We have been South Jersey’s leader in phototherapy treatments for over 30 years.
At what age does eczema go away?
A majority of infants or children with eczema will no longer face symptoms by around age three. However, some a significant number of patients will have eczema through their teen or adult years.
Can eczema be caused by stress?
Stress does not cause eczema, but it can provoke or worsen symptoms for patients who already have the condition.
Can eczema be a sign of cancer?
Skin cancer can cause rashes that look similar to eczema. Rarely eczema in adulthood can be associated with malignancy.
Can eczema make you feel tired?
Adults with eczema have a higher rate of fatigue compared to those without the condition.
Can eczema be a sign of something else?
Eczema can be related to other conditions including atopic dermatitis or other inflammatory skin conditions.
Can eczema be caused by hypothyroidism?
It is possible for hypothyroidism to cause eczema and other skin conditions. The imbalance of thyroid hormones affects your entire body.
Do I have eczema or psoriasis?
Eczema and psoriasis have many of the same symptoms so it might be difficult to tell them apart. One of the main differences is that eczema tends to develop in the crook of the knees or elbows. Psoriasis develops as itchy patches on the face, scalp, and buttocks as well as the knees and elbows. If you are unsure, it is always best to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist for a proper diagnosis.
Does eczema get worse as you age?
It is possible for eczema to get worse as you age, but this varies significantly between different people. Others may even find that their eczema improves with age.
Does eczema get worse in the winter?
Cold temperatures during the winter cause dry skin which can provoke an eczema flare-up.
How long does it take for eczema flare up to clear?
Eczema flare-ups should improve within 1-3 weeks with proper treatment.
Following Eczema Treatment
Following eczema treatment, patients will notice an improvement in their eczema symptoms and the appearance of the skin. Your dermatologist will instruct you on how to properly go about your treatment for the best possible results. Do not hesitate to contact our office regarding post-treatment questions.
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