Eczema, also sometimes referred to as dermatitis, is a common condition characterized by a certain type of inflammation in the skin. There are many different types of eczema and symptoms can range from mild itching and redness to severe blistering and cracked skin.
Eczema affects men and women of all ages. Though the exact causes of eczema are unknown, there are some factors that can increase your risk of developing certain types of dermatitis.
In some cases, eczema is known to run in families, indicating a possible genetic component. Other factors could include age, allergies, an overactive immune system, health conditions like congestive heart failure, Parkinson’s disease or HIV, contact with irritating substances or fabrics, stress and even extreme temperatures.
The most common symptoms of eczema are itching, scaling, redness, fluid-filled blisters and cracking of the skin. The itchy redness can appear anywhere on the body, but most commonly affects the elbows, wrists, face, neck, knees, ankles and groin.
Eczema may flare up and cause severe symptoms, or can also become a chronic problem with less intense symptoms.
Treatments will vary depending on the cause and severity of the eczema, but using a mild soap at home that does not dry your skin and a high quality lotion after washing is recommended. Some tips for avoiding flare-ups:
If eczema is severe or persists, your doctor may recommend a topical corticosteroid or other over-the-counter cream, as well as prescription ointments and an oral steroid. In the most severe cases, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic, if an additional skin infection is suspected, oral antihistamine or even immunosuppressant drugs to suppress an overactive immune system, though this is less common.
There is no cure for eczema; however, you can prevent an eczema flare-up by using warm water instead of hot (which can irritate and dry out your skin), regularly using moisturizers, and by choosing mild, fragrance-free soaps.
*Results may vary by individual