Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis is a common allergic reaction often affecting the face, neck, front of the elbows and back of the knees, the so called flexure surfaces. It is estimated to affect 15 million people in the US. About 10-20% of infants have eczema.
Although it can look different from person to person, it typically is dry, red, extremely itchy patches on the skin. It has been described as an “itch that rashes” because it first manifest as an itch, with appearance of the rash when the itch is scratched. Chronic scratching causes the skin to take on a thickened texture and appear like leather.
Many triggers have been identified with atopic eczema. It is most commonly associated with dry skin and will get worse with agents that dry out the skin, such as soap, detergents and disinfectants.
Foods allergies are a common trigger to atopic eczema. Approximately 30% of patients with eczema have one or more foods that can trigger their symptoms. That is why it is crucial to skin test patients with eczema with food allergens to identify potential triggers.
Then avoidance of that food can help improve the symptoms.
One of the most important components of eczema treatment is to prevent itching. This can be done with moisturizers on the skin, topical cortisone creams and antihistamine pills. If the itch can be stopped then scratching will stop and the rash should clear up.
Because eczema is characterized by dry skin, then moisturizers become crucial in relieving the symptoms. A good moisturizers needs to be applied daily, especially right after bathing .This combined with a good steroid cream as well as Elidel or Protopic ointment can clear up most cases of atopic dermatitis.
An allergist/immunologist is the best qualified medical professional to diagnose and treat eczema/atopic dermatitis. Please contact our office for an appointment to evaluate and treat your eczema.