Eczema is a group of medical conditions that causes skin to become inflamed or irritated. It comes from the Greek word “to boil.” It affects approximately 3% of adults and children and around 10% – 20% of infants in the U.S. It almost always causes itchiness and most commonly forms rashes on the face, back of knees, hands, wrists, or feet. It can affect any part of your body. We also refer to eczema as dermatitis, which literally means “skin inflammation.”
Skin Conditions – Eczema
The exact cause of is unknown, but genetics play a strong role. In patients with eczema, a problem with skin barrier function leads to an immune system response to various irritants. Studies have found that eczema is more commonly found in families that have a history of allergies or asthma.
Multiple skin conditions can lead to eczema. Exposures to allergens or irritating substances, poor circulation in veins, scaling skin, or excessive dryness can all result in eczema. Some cases are minor and can be treated with creams, however, some might be more severe and may require a stronger treatment.
If you are experiencing frequent itchiness and dry skin, visit your dermatologist to see if your symptoms are related. The goals of treatment for eczema are to prevent and relieve itching and to limit any infections. The first step in treatment involves adequate moisturization with over-the-counter creams. Topical steroids are often prescribed for varying levels of inflammation. In the event of an infection, antibiotics may be prescribed. In more serious conditions, stronger therapies may be advised by your dermatologist.