Eczema The Woodlands
What is Eczema?
Eczema is a chronic skin condition that involves irritated and itchy patches of skin. It is common in childhood but may not manifest until later years. Many times the skin appears to have a red, itchy rash. Severe cases may result in blisters and cracked skin. Often times, itching begins before the rash appears. Eczema is commonly associated with other conditions, such as asthma and seasonal allergies.
Eczema arises because of a complex interaction of genetic and environmental factors. These include defects in skin barrier function making the skin more susceptible to irritation by soap and other contact irritants, the weather, temperature and non-specific triggers. Eczema affects 15-20% of children but only 1-2% of adults. The onset of atopic eczema is usually before two years of age although it can manifest itself in older people for the first time. Atopic eczema is often worst between the ages of two and four but it generally improves after this and may clear altogether by the teens.
There is quite a variation in the appearance of atopic eczema between individuals. From time to time, most people have acute flares with inflamed, red, sometimes blistered and weepy patches. In between flares, the skin may appear normal or suffer from chronic eczema with dry, thickened and itchy areas.
Treatment of atopic dermatitis requires reduction of exposure to triggers when possible, regular use of moisturizers, and intermittent topical steroids. Self skin care includes avoiding hot showers, bathing or showering for less than 10 minutes, using a mild soap such as Dove, and moisturizing after each shower. In some cases, those with atopic dermatitis may benefit from topical calcineurin inhibitors, antibiotics, antihistamines, and light treatment. For longstanding and severe eczema, we may consider systemic medications.