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Definition

Eczema is also known as Atopic Dermatitis. It is a chronic skin disorder that involves scaly and itchy rashes.

EczemaCauses, incidence, and risk factors

Eczema is due to a hypersensitivity reaction (similar to an allergy) in the skin, which leads to long-term inflammation. The inflammation causes the skin to become itchy and scaly. Long-term irritation and scratching can cause the skin to thicken and have a leather-like texture.

Eczema is common in infants, and at least half of those cases clear by age 3. In adults, it is generally a long-term or recurring condition. People with eczema often have a family history of allergic conditions like asthma, hay fever, or eczema.

Symptoms

eczema treatment- Blisters with oozing and crusting
- Dry, leathery skin areas
- Ear discharge or bleeding
- Intense itching
- Rash
- In children younger than age 2, skin lesions begin on the cheeks, elbows, or knees
- In adults, the rash is more commonly seen on the inside of the knees and elbows
- Raw areas of the skin from scratching
- Skin coloring changes -- more or less coloring than the normal skin tone
- Skin redness or inflammation around the blisters

The following can make eczema symptoms worse:

- Dry skin
- Exposure to environmental irritants
- Stress
- Temperature changes

Treatment

- Treatment may vary depending on the appearance (stage) of the lesions -- acute "weeping" lesions, dry scaly lesions, or chronic dry, thickened lesions are each treated differently.
- Avoid anything that makes the symptoms worse. This may include food allergens and irritants such as lanolin and detergent.
- Dry skin often makes the condition worse. When washing or bathing, avoid hot water. After bathing, it is important to trap the moisture in the skin by applying lubricating cream on the skin while it is damp.
- Mild anti-itch lotions or topical corticosteroids (low potency) may soothe less severe or healing areas, or dry scaly lesions.
- Chronic thickened areas may be treated with ointments or creams that contain tar compounds, powerful anti-inflammatory medicines, and ingredients that lubricate or soften the skin. Systemic corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation in some severe cases.
- Medicines called topical immunomodulators (TIMs) may be prescribed in some cases. These medications do not contain corticosteroids. TIMs include tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel)


Expectations (prognosis)

- Eczema is a chronic condition, cannot cure but it may be controlled with treatment and by avoiding irritants.

Complications

- Bacterial infections of the skin
- Permanent scars

Prevention

- Studies have shown that children who are breast-fed are less likely to get eczema. Other dietary restrictions may include eggs, and peanuts.
- Control of stress, anxiety, and depression can be beneficial in some cases.