What is it?
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a type of skin rash. It is characterized by patches of itchy, red, irritated skin. In severe cases, the rash may develop into patches of oozing and flaking skin, and may cause the skin to thicken. This condition is more common in children, but can occur in adults as well.
The precise cause of eczema is unknown, but it tends to be found in families and individuals with a history of allergic conditions. There are a number of factors believed to contribute to the development of atopic dermatitis, including genetics, environment, and abnormalities of the immune system. Contact with allergens may also trigger flare-ups in those affected by eczema. Triggers can also include stress, contact with rough fabrics, or even respiratory conditions like the common cold.
Eczema is generally not contagious. One form, eczema herpeticum, is contagious, but the most common form is not.
What causes it?
The cause is unknown; however, genetics appear to play a role. Approximately 5% of the US population is affected by eczema. It is often associated with a personal or family history of hay fever or asthma.
Mild eczema may be controlled by avoiding triggers, such as scented soaps and cleaners, harsh cleaning chemicals, and dusty environments. Lotions and humidifiers may be used to help moisten dry skin, anti-histamines and topical creams may sooth irritated or itchy skin. In more severe cases, prescription drugs may be needed to reduce inflammation. Contact Dr. Amy Vaughan Dermatology to find the best treatment to reduce your skin irritation and the occurrence of flare-ups.