Medical Dermatology

Eczema

Eczema is a general term for any type of dermatitis (inflammation of the skin). Skin diseases that are “eczemas” include atopic dermatitis, nummular eczema, dyshidrotic eczema, asteatotic eczema, contact dermatitis and hypersensitivity dermatitis. Hypersensitivity dermatitis may be caused by medications, infections/infestations and/or allergies.

  • When people with atopic and dyshidrotic dermatitis are exposed to an irritant or allergen to which they are sensitive, their immune system is stimulated to produce inflammatory cells that enter the skin and release chemicals that cause itching and redness.
  • All types of eczema can be itchy and red; some types may weep, crack, peel or blister.
  • Irritants are substances that cause burning, itch and redness. Astringents and toners, alcohol or acid-containing skin products, acidic foods, detergents, fumes and industrial chemicals are a few examples of skin irritants.
  • Changes in climate and extremes of climate (excessive heat, humidity, cold or dry air) can trigger flares of atopic, nummular, asteatotic and dyshidrotic eczemas.
  • Atopic dermatitis very often occurs together with other atopic diseases like hay fever, seasonal or pet allergies, dust mite allergy, asthma and conjunctivitis. It is a chronic condition that can worsen or disappear over time. Atopic dermatitis may sometimes be mistaken for psoriasis.
  • Medical moisturizers (also known as barrier repair creams or emollients) are now available to improve skin barrier function in people with eczema and atopic dermatitis. These products include Atopiclair, Biafine, CeraVe, Ceratopic, DML Forte, Mimyx and Tetrix.
  • Along with moisturizers, eczema can be treated with topical corticosteroids, topical calcineurin inhibitors, ultraviolet light therapy, and immunosuppressant drugs in severe cases.