Eczema, also known as dermatitis, is a chronic condition that can cause irritating and sometimes embarrassing skin rashes. People of all ages and skin types can have eczema although the type, severity, and body areas affected vary significantly from person to person. The hallmark symptoms include dry, red, itchy, flaky, and/or swollen skin. Typically, a person with eczema will periodically experience "flare-ups" in response to some internal or external trigger, such as chemical irritants, allergens, foods, stress, and extreme weather. These flare-ups--which most commonly cause symptoms on the face, hands, feet, and behind the knees--tend to decrease in both frequency and severity with age.
While it can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, eczema is not contagious. The exact cause of eczema is not always clear, but doctors agree that it may be related to other problems affecting the immune system, including hay fever and asthma. If you have eczema, it's also possible that your children may have inherited a genetic predisposition to the condition.
Currently, there is no known cure for eczema, but the condition is manageable. After completing a thorough patient history and physical examination, Dr. Cayce implements treatment plans for her patients living with eczema that focus on symptom resolution, prevention of flare-ups, and elimination of triggers. Common treatments may include prescription or over-the-counter medications (including topical and oral), avoidance of known triggers or irritants, ultraviolet light therapy, and nutritional and lifestyle counseling.
Keeping your skin clean, well-moisturized, and protected from sunlight over-exposure is key. Whatever your unique type of eczema is, it's important to work with your dermatologist to find the right combination of treatments that will be a "best fit" for you and your skin.