Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Remedies

Eczema Treatment Remedies


The contents of this app are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. The information provided should not be considered as a substitute for the advice of a medical doctor or other healthcare professional.

Pathology (What is Eczema?)

Atopic dermatitis, or eczema, is an inflammatory noncontagious skin disorder.

There are two main hypotheses that have been offered to explain the inflammatory skin response in people with eczema: immune system imbalance, and skin barrier defects.

One theory proposed to explain the inflammatory skin responses of eczema is that there is an imbalance in certain types of immune cells (T cells) that leads to an increased production of the antibodies that trigger allergic responses.

The theory of skin barrier defects comes from evidence that people with a certain gene mutation are at increased risk of developing eczema.

The gene defect that may be related to increased eczema risk decreases the production of a certain protein in the skin that helps bind skin cells together.

Eczema may be accompanied by asthma or hay fever.

Eczema Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of eczema can vary widely from person to person.

In infants, patches of eczema can also appear on the face and scalp.

Small, raised bumps appear on areas with eczema. These bumps may leak fluid and crust over when scratched.

Skin affected by eczema can become raw, sensitive and swollen as a result of scratching.

Some people have periodic outbreaks, or flares, of eczema followed by a long period, even several years, of inactivity (no eczema).

Most people with eczema also have a bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus present on their skin.

If you have eczema that makes you so uncomfortable that you are losing sleep or distracted from your daily responsibilities, it may be time to see a doctor.

If your skin is tender and appears to be infected, you should consult your doctor for help.

If you've tried over-the-counter preparations and self-care therapies that do not seem to be helping, it may be time to see a doctor.

Sometimes eczema appears around the eyes and may affect your vision.

Eczema Causes

The exact cause of eczema is unknown.

Healthy skin helps retain moisture and protects you from bacteria, irritants and allergens.

Dry, irritable skin reduces the skin's ability to be an effective barrier, and so may be a factor in the development of eczema.

There may be a gene variation that affects the skin's barrier function that makes some people more susceptible to eczema.

It is possible that some type of immune system dysfunction contributes to the development of eczema.

Some environmental conditions may predispose a person to eczema.

Health care workers are prone to hand dermatitis.

Long, hot baths or showers can lead to dry skin, which makes eczema worse.

Psychological stress sometimes precipitates outbreaks of eczema.

Sweaty skin and changes in heat or humidity may provoke eczema or worsen the signs and symptoms.

Scratching areas of eczema causes further skin damage.

Certain clothing fibers, particularly wool in clothing, blankets and carpets, can irritate the skin in people with eczema.

Inhaling dust. pollen, tobacco smoke or polluted air is associated with eczema flare-ups.

Certain food allergies may be a factor in eczema, particularly in young children.

Eczema is related to allergies, but eliminating the allergens is rarely helpful in clearing the condition.

Items that trap dust, such as feather pillows, down comforters, mattresses, carpet and drapes, can worsen eczema.

Eczema Diagnosis

Your doctor does not need to perform a lab test to identify and diagnose eczema.

The diagnosis of eczema is based on a physical examination of affected areas of skin and a medical history.

Your doctor may use patch testing or other tests to rule out other skin diseases that could be causing symptoms similar to eczema, or identify other conditions that you may have along with the eczema.

Eczema Treatment

There is no cure for eczema, but it can be managed with treatments and self-care measures to relieve itching and prevent outbreaks.

Eczema can be difficult to control, requiring several different types of medicines and/or therapies to manage the itching and flare-ups.

Even when treatment is effective in reducing itching and other signs of eczema, the signs and symptoms may return (flare) at a later time.

Your doctor may prescribe cortisone creams or ointments to help control itching and inflammation.

Overuse of topical corticosteroids can cause skin irritation and discoloration, thinning of the skin, infections and stretch marks.

There are certain creams that can actually help repair the skin. These creams contain drugs that affect your immune system.

Calcineurin inhibitors are prescription-only drugs and are used only when other treatments have failed, because of potential side effects.

Topical calcineurin-containing creams are approved for all persons over age 2.

For more severe cases, your doctor may prescribe oral corticosteroids, such as prednisone, or an injected corticosteroid.

Oral or injected corticosteroids can control inflammation but can't be used long-term because of potential serious side effects.

If you do receive oral or injected corticosteroids for your eczema, be sure to continue moisturizing and other self-care remedies to prevent flare-ups after you stop getting the steroids

Light therapy, or phototherapy, involves exposing your skin to controlled amounts of natural sunlight. Light therapy can help control symptoms of eczema.

Treatment of infantile eczema includes identifying and avoiding skin irritations, avoiding exposure to extreme temperatures, and lubricating the baby's skin with oils, lotions, creams or ointments.

Hydrocortisone cream should be applied to the skin before applying moisturizer.

Eczema Prevention

Prevention in eczema involves reducing the incidence and frequency of eczema flares.

Identifying and avoiding triggers that worsen inflammation, then reducing your exposure to your unique triggers, can prevent frequent eczema flares.

Limiting baths and showers to 10 to 15 minutes, using warm (not hot) water, and adding bath oil are helpful preventive measures.

Moisturizing the skin at least twice daily, with thicker moisturizers such as Cetaphil, Nutraderm, or Eucerin , helps seal in moisture, which makes the skin less susceptible to eczema flares.

Oils have more staying power than moisturizers, so applying baby oil or a similar product while your skin is still moist (after a bath or shower) is an effective way to avoid dry skin.

Apply moisturizer while your skin is still damp from a bath or shower, paying special attention to areas that are prone to eczema, such as the legs, arms and hands.

Some people with eczema may need to cover the itchy areas to avoid scratching, and even trim their nails and wear gloves at night to keep from scratching in their sleep.

Counseling can help children and young adults who may be frustrated or embarrassed by their eczema.

Relaxation, behavior modification and biofeedback may help people control the habitual scratching.

Some alternative therapies may be helpful to prevent or reduce eczema flares.

One study showed 4 weeks of acupressure resulted in reduced itching and scaling in people with eczema.

A diet high in fruits may have a protective effect against eczema.

Dilute bleach baths may reduce flare-ups by acting against the staph bacteria on the skin that may contribute to eczema development.

Many cases of eczema can be managed with home care and over the counter medications, but more severe cases may require a doctor's care.

Eczema Statistics & Facts

Eczema most often begins before age 5 and can persist into adolescence and adulthood.

Eczema affects 15-30% of children and 2-10% of adults in developed countries.

The incidence of eczema in the US has nearly tripled in the past 30 to 40 years.

The increase in the incidence of eczema could be related to the hygiene hypothesis--that children who are brought up exposed to allergens at a young age are more likely to tolerate them as they get older, while children brought up in a "sanitary" environment are less likely to be exposed to the allergens at a young age, so when they are exposed they develop allergies.

People exposed to dogs while growing up have a lower risk of atopic dermatitis (eczema).

Children with poor hygiene are less likely to develop eczema.

Diseases that sometimes resemble atopic dermatitis are scabies, seborrheic dermatitis, and contact dermatitis.

Around 50% of all those with atopic dermatitis develop symptoms within their first year of life, and probably as many as 95% experience an onset below five years of age.

Around 75% with childhood onset of the disease have a spontaneous remission before adolescence, whereas the remaining 25% continue to have eczema into adulthood or experience a relapse of symptoms after some symptom-free years.

Many with adult-onset eczema or eczema relapsing in adulthood develop hand eczema as the main manifestation. In some patients, this constitutes a serious concern as it may affect their choice of career or employment.

Around 50–75% of all children with early-onset eczema are sensitized to one or more allergens, such as food allergens, house dust mites, or pets, while those with late-onset eczema are less often sensitized.

A child with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis may have as much as 50% risk of developing asthma and 75% risk of developing hay fever.

People who live in urban areas are more likely to have eczema than people from more rural areas.

African-Americans are more prone to eczema than other ethnicities in the US.

Children who are in childcare have a greater risk of eczema.

Having attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) appears to be a risk factor for eczema.

If an identical twin has eczema, the risk of its co-twin developing eczema is 75%

The fillagrin gene is the strongest known genetic risk factor for eczema: Around 10% of people from western populations carry mutations in the filaggrin gene, while around 50% of all patients with atopic dermatitis have these mutations.

Eczema Treatment Remedies plus

The contents of this app are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. The information provided should not be considered as a substitute for the advice of a medical doctor or other healthcare professional.

Pathology (What is Eczema?)

Red, itchy skin is the hallmark sign of eczema, a skin condition that is also known as atopic dermatitis.

If there is a reduced production of a protein that helps bind skin cells together, the skin barrier is weaker and this leads to increased loss of water, and thus dry skin that is susceptible to eczema.

Eczema is most common in children but can occur at any age.

Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is considered a chronic condition that tends to persist over months and even years, flaring up and subsiding alternately over time.

Eczema Symptoms

Most people with eczema report itching, which can be severe and is especially worse at night.

People with eczema often have red to brownish-gray patches, especially on the skin of the hands, feet, ankles, wrists, neck, upper chest, eyelids, inside the elbows and behind the knees.

Red streaks, pus, and yellow scabs are signs that your skin may be infected.

Another sign of chronic eczema is thickened, cracked, dry and scaly skin.

If the skin barrier is broken, due to scratching or cracking as a result of eczema, staph bacteria may multiply rapidly, worsening symptoms.

If your child has a rash that appears infected and they have a fever, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Eczema Causes

Bacteria on the skin, such as Staphylococcus aureus, create a film that blocks sweat glands. This could be a factor in the development of eczema.

A person who has a family history of eczema is more likely to get eczema themselves.

People who have allergies, hay fever or asthma are more likely to also have eczema.

People with eczema should be careful to avoid harsh chemicals in cleansers, soaps and detergents that may irritate the skin and worsen symptoms.

Eggs, milk, peanuts, soybeans, fish and wheat are foods that may provoke eczema flare-ups, especially in infants and children.

Eczema Treatment

Regular use of moisturizers, and avoiding hot baths, showers and environmental irritants, are the first steps you should take to help control eczema.

Topical creams that contain drugs called calcineurin inhibitors, such as tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel), help maintain normal skin, control itching and reduce eczema flare- ups.

Oral antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl and others) can help itching and may also help you sleep at night.

Wrapping the affected area with a topical corticosteroid and wet bandages is an effective, intensive treatment for severe eczema that can control signs and symptoms within hours to days.

Nonprescription, over-the-counter anti-itch creams containg at least 1% hydrocortisonce can temporarily relieve eczema itching.

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