Skin Condition of the Month: Eczema
Our dermis works in such a way that it acts as a barrier, protecting our bodies from irritants and allergens. Unfortunately, eczema weakens that barrier, leaving the dermis susceptible to dryness and infection. We at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta understand the difficulties of living with eczema and strive to help our patients easily manage their eczema symptoms. This month, we are highlighting eczema to help our readers better understand one of the most common skin conditions affecting Americans.
What is Eczema?
You may often hear the terms eczema and dermatitis used interchangeably, but these conditions are not the same. Eczema is a type of dermatitis (known as atopic dermatitis), but dermatitis also embodies other rashes that fall outside the scope of eczema. When talking about eczema, we are referring to a chronic skin condition that causes patches on one’s skin to become itchy and irritated. Eczema is not a contagious condition, so it cannot be spread to others. There are seven different types of eczema, each with its own symptoms and triggers, but we have focused on the four most common here and will cover the others in our upcoming blog about Dermatitis:
- Atopic Dermatitis is the most common type of Eczema. It appears as flaky, circular areas on the skin that are typically reddish in color and tends to crust.
- Dyshidrotic Eczema presents itself as small blisters that form on both the hands and feet. Typically, nickel and cobalt items can cause flare-ups, but there can also be other triggers.
- Hand Eczema may look like dry skin, but it is more severe and is not soothed by moisturizer. This type of eczema typically develops in individuals who frequently work with chemicals, such as construction workers or hair stylists.
- Nummular Eczema is round in shape and tends to occur after skin injuries such as burns, abrasions, or insect bites.
Causes and Symptoms of Eczema
Eczema can occur for various reasons, but the most common causes are genetics, stress levels, environmental agents, foods, cosmetics, living organisms, and different household products. The cause of eczema will vary from person to person, and patch testing – which tests your skin’s reaction to allergens – can help isolate the potential cause of a patient’s eczema rash.
Each type of eczema also presents with different symptoms and severity levels. However, some of the most common symptoms include:
- Itchy, dry skin (with or without deep cracks)
- Bumps that appear like blisters or sores
- Skin that seems leathery in texture
- Oozing or bleeding skin
- Pain and sensations of burning
How Can Eczema Be Treated?
The type of eczema rash a patient experiences will determine the most helpful treatment method. Prescription creams and antibiotics may be required to effectively treat eczema. There are many new medications (topical, oral, and injectable) that can treat the most common type (atopic dermatitis) successfully. Our dermatology providers specialize in developing customized treatment plans based on each patient’s eczema diagnosis and skin type. Some of our treatments for eczema include:
- Creams with anti-itch properties
- Custom prescription compounds
- Immune-suppressing medications like Cyclosporine A
When discussing potential treatment plans, we may also recommend home remedies in conjunction with any prescription we provide, such as taking lukewarm baths, applying moisturizers after bathing, and using cold compresses.
Getting Expert Eczema Care at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta
If you are suffering from eczema, getting expert medical help is essential. The Eczema Center at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta specializes in treating eczema, skin allergies, and sensitive skin. We will provide patch testing and we pride ourselves on providing the most comprehensive treatment available, as well as additional modes of testing to help our patients identify triggers and find relief from eczema. Please schedule your appointment with Dermatology Associates of Atlanta today so that one of our board-certified dermatologists or physician assistants can provide the treatment that you need. For more information and skin health tips, follow us on Facebook and Instagram.