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What is eczema?

Eczema is also called atopic dermatitis. Atopic means a predisposition to develop allergic reactions when coming in contact with an allergen (a substance that causes an allergic reaction).

Eczema is a group of conditions that cause the skin to become itchy and inflamed. There are many types.

  • Some variants include Atopic dermatitis – the most common type affecting one in ten people
  • Contact dermatitis – a skin reaction to an irritant or allergy to nickel or fragrance
  • Hand eczema – Dry, scaly and painful hands. It usually affects people whose hands are in repeated contact with water, chemicals, and irritants, sometimes called dyshidrotic eczema.
  • Neurodermatitis – itching in response to intense stress and intensifies when sleeping or relaxing. The more scratching the more intense the itch
  • Nummular eczema – round or oval spots that are raised and itchy, usually triggered by a bug bite or minor injury
  • Stasis dermatitis – dry itchy skin around the ankles in people with poor blood flow

About Atopic Dermatitis (AD)

AD is common, chronic inflammatory skin disorder that flares and remits and affects 15-20% infants between birth and five years of age and 2-5% of adults. Eczema is a lifelong disease.

Flare ups can be triggered by many things. Some common causes are exposure to fragrance, especially in laundry detergent, dry skin, dry air, warm weather, sun exposure, sweating, pollutants, and allergens.

There is no cure, though the symptoms and frequency of flares often improve as children age. Self-care is important to prevent new eruptions.

What are the symptoms?

Children with eczema have symptoms on their faces and scalp. As they grow older the flares may appear on their hands, feet, chest, neck, elbows, knees, eyelids, face and scalp.

Symptoms include:

  • Red, raw, itchy skin
  • Dry sensitive scaly skin
  • Swollen skin
  • Severe itching that can be severe at night
  • Patches of small, raised bumps that can leak fluid and crust over
  • Thickened, cracked skin
  • Red or brown discolored patches of skin
  • Skin infections caused by scratching

What causes eczema?

The skin is the largest organ in the body. The outer most layer of the skin functions to retain moisture and natural oils, and keep out bacteria, allergens, and irritants. The skin barrier is essential to human life.

Eczema is caused by genetic vulnerability that compromises the skin barrier which allows toxic chemicals, bacteria, irritants, pollutants, and allergens to penetrate the skin. This triggers an immune response resulting in red, itchy, inflamed skin. Atopic dermatitis can be related to asthma, allergic rhinitis, and food allergy. Some patients may have all these conditions.

How is it treated?

Treatment focuses on improving the skin barrier function; and managing the symptoms.

To protect your skin barrier function, it is important to be gentle with your skin. Avoid exfoliating scrubs, cleansers that strip the skin of natural oils and chemical exfoliants, improving bathing habits, and frequent application of moisturizers. Talk with Dr. Michael Sotiriou about the best skin care routine for you.

Treatments to stop the itch include topical steroid creams, antibiotics to treat infections, antihistamines, prescription medications to calm the immune response, and UV light therapy.

During your dermatology visit Dr. Michael Sotiriou will listen to your concerns, review your medical history, and examine your skin. The goal is to identify the cause of your eczema and find treatments that will relieve your symptoms. He will create a treatment plan to address your specific symptoms and avoid triggers that cause flare ups. There are many treatment options that can help.

Contact Dr. Michael Sotiriou at Salt Lake Dermatology & Aesthetics in Salt Lake City, Utah to schedule an appointment today.

At a Glance

Dr. Michael Sotiriou

  • Board-certified, Residency-Trained Medical and Cosmetic Dermatologist
  • Sub-Specialty Board Certification in Mohs Micrographic Dermatologic Surgery from the American Board of Dermatology
  • Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology
  • Learn more

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