In the most general sense, eczema can indicate any one of a number of skin conditions that cause the skin to become swollen and itchy. Often when a person says they have eczema, they are referring to atopic dermatitis, a chronic condition that is the most common type of eczema. Atopic dermatitis causes the skin to swell, crack, and ‘weep’ clear fluid. Other types of eczema include hand, nummular, and seborrheic dermatitis.
Who Gets Eczema?
Eczema occurs in all races and skin types and afflicts approximately 10% to 20% of the world’s population. As with so many skin conditions, the cause and cure for eczema is unknown. Factors that may increase your risk for developing eczema are:
- Age: 90% develop the condition before the age five
- Family history: children of parents with eczema are more likely to develop the condition
- Location: living in a developed country, city or geographically northern area
It is also important to remember that eczema is not contagious, and that it can be aggravated by stress or other emotional disorders.
Relief From Eczema
The symptoms include: redness, swelling, cracking, weeping, crusting, thick skin, and scaling – are often managed with over-the-counter creams and moisturizers. In cases where symptoms become severe, steroid creams or oral steroids may be prescribed.
Antibiotics may be administered if a bacterial skin infection develops in an open sore caused by scratching. Oral antihistamines are recommended to relieve itching, and oral corticosteroids to reduce inflammation.
Perhaps the most significant measure for preventing flare-ups is to avoid stressful situations, skin irritants, extreme temperatures, and to regularly use bath oils, lotions, creams or ointments to lubricate the skin.
Please contact Issaquah Dermatologist Dr. Michalak’s office if you would like to learn more about the treatment options. Our office is located in Issaquah, a short drive from downtown Seattle, Bellevue, Renton and Redmond.