Eczema


Eczema refers to several different conditions where the skin is red, irritated and can sometimes cause small bumps or blisters to form. Eczema is a chronic recurring intensely itchy inflammation of the skin. The most common type of eczema, known as atopic dermatitis, often appears first in early childhood. This type of eczema is known as atopic eczema as well as atopic dermatitis. The causes of eczema are unknown, but a genetic link to the disease has been established. There are a variety of treatment options available for this skin condition.

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Taking a sensible approach to treating eczema is very important, so we have designed this guide to help you understand your eczema more clearly. It discusses what eczema is, what causes eczema and what eczema treatment options are available.

Eczema Basics

Eczema - What s It

Eczema - What Looks Like It

Nummular Dermatitis
It is a chronic recurring rash that seem to occur in the drier, colder months. The lesions are usually round, disk-like plaques or patches of very dry skin.

Hand Eczema - Hand Dermatitis
This is a very common occurring in about 10% of women and 4% of men. It can be very itchy.

Subtypes of Hand Dermatitis
Subtypes of hand dermatitis: contact dermatitis (irritant or allergic), dyshidrotic eczema, hyperkeratotic dermatitis, atopic hand dermatitis.

Lichen Simplex Chronicus
This is a localized itchy, well defined eruption. It usually starts with small papules that join together to become plaques. The chronic nature of this condition can be troubling.

Contact Dermatitis
Contact dermatitis can be either irritant or allergic. Irritant dermatitis is usually mild. There is some erythema. Micro-vesiculation of tiny blisters can be seen although this is not as prominent as an allergic dermatitis.

Allergic Dermatitis
This can be mild and have features similar to irritant dermatitis. More severe reactions will produce blisters, redness and swelling.

Occupational Contact Dermatitis Allergic contact dermatitis is common in certain occupations.

Sunscreen Allergies
Allergies to sunscreen are seen. These can be irritant, allergic, or photo-allergic.

Eczema Facts

Eczema Triggers and Symptoms
Click on the boxes on the diagram to get more information on key facts including triggers and symptoms of eczema.

Dry Skin
There is a lack-lustre appearance to the skin and it looks and feels scaly. This dryness occurs even in the areas of skin not involved directly with active eczema.

Inflammation
There is no eczema without having inflammation. This is likely due to the immunological response.

Secondary Infection
The skin of individuals with atopic eczema behaves as if it was immune suppressed. This means that it can be more readily infected by bacteria, viruses and fungi...

Frequent Flare-Ups
In atopic dermatitis it is typical for there to be episodes of calm mixed with flares ups of eczema.

Family History
There is frequently a personal or family history of eczema, asthma and hay fever.

Itch
Eczema has been called “the itch that rashes”. In reality the features of eczema come about in part from the scratching of the skin as a result of the itching.

Eczema Based on Patient Age

Baby Eczema - Infant Eczema
The involvement in these first few months of life is usually on the face, the upper chest, the scalp and neck...

Childhood Eczema
This involves children between the ages of four and ten years old. The eczema is usually more localized than in the infant...

Teen And Adult Eczema
Involvement with adults and teens is less acute than in children. The most common sites of involvement are the hands and feet as well as...

Eczema Pictures
View a selection of eczema pictures showing photos of infant eczema, childhood eczema, and adult eczema.

What Causes Eczema
The cause of eczema (atopic dermatitis) is unknown. It is a genetic disease. It arises from interplay of multiple genes with external environmental factors. The more atopic genes that are present, the less...

Diagnosing Eczema
Features important in making A diagnosis of eczema...

What Can You Do About Eczema?

Triggers To Avoid
Several factors are known to trigger or aggravate eczema, and should be avoided. Some of these factors are weather conditions as well as air-borne allergens, certain foods, skin irritants, and stress.

Cleansing
When you have eczema, you should avoid soaps, especially bar soaps, even ‘moisturizing soaps’ as they will dry the skin and may damage the skin barrier. Only mild soap-free cleansers, preferably

Bathing
Baths may be better than showers. The water temperature should be luke warm. Long hot showers are not recommended. Soaps tend to be degreasers removing oils that are needed in the skin.

Moisturizing
Moisturizers have been found to help restore the skin barrier providing a protective layer on surface of the skin to trap water and prevent the penetration of irritants and allergens...

Other Self Care
Hydrocortisone, Anti-Itch Products, Oral Supplements and other care...

Medical Treatment of Eczema

Objectives of Therapy
Control symptoms and signs, long term care required, control dryness...


Topical Treatment

Topical Prescription Treatment For Eczema
Different types of topical treatment are available. Choose one from this diagram for more information.

Topical Corticosteroids
Different types of topical treatments exist for eczema, such as topical corticosteroids and topical immunomodulators. This section deals with a variety of topical treatments used to treat eczema.

Other Topical Treatments For Eczema
There are other topical treatments for eczema. Here we discuss tar, antibiotics and anti itch treatments.


Topical Immunomodulators
Pimecrolimus 1% Cream (Elidel®), Tacrolimus .1% and 0.03% ointment (Protopic®)...

Oral Treatment
Possible oral treatments for eczema are antibiotics, antihistamines, corticosteroids, and cyclosporine A (Neoral)...

Light Therapy
The following are types of light therapy: Phototherapy, Narrow Band UVB, PUVA...

Treatment Selection Chart
Select one of the features of the eczema (center of chart) and then select from the "Type of Eczema" (from the bottom of the chart) whether it is...

Treatment Triangle
Consider that treatment decisions are not built solely on high quality evidence based medicine. There may not be clinical trial evidence to support treatment or to optimize combination therapy...

Treatment of Complications
There are a number of complications associated with eczema: Bacterial Infections, Viral Infections, Molluscum Contagiosum, Warts, Fungal Infections...


Need more information. Read our Eczema Articles.