What is Eczema?

There are technically many types of “Eczema”, but the most common one that we think of is Atopic Dermatitis. It is the “itch that rashes”. These patients have a genetic predisposition to not only atopic dermatitis but to hay fever, allergies, and asthma. This condition can start at any age but commonly first seen as a baby or in childhood.

What are the symptoms of Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)?

  • Dry skin

  • Itching, which may be severe, particularly at night
  • Red to brownish-gray patches, especially on the hands, feet, ankles, wrists, neck, upper chest, eyelids, inside the bend of the elbows and knees, and in infants, the face and scalp
  • Thickened, cracked, scaly skin

  • Raw, sensitive, swollen skin from scratching

What causes Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)?

Healthy skin helps retain moisture and protects you from bacteria, irritants, and allergens. Eczema is related to a gene variation that affects the skin’s ability to provide this protection. This allows your skin to be affected by environmental factors, irritants, and allergens. In some children, food allergies may play a role in causing eczema.

What are some complications of Eczema?

Chronic itchy, scaly skin. A skin condition called neurodermatitis (lichen simplex chronicus) starts with a patch of itchy skin. You scratch the area, which makes it even itchier. Eventually, you may scratch simply out of habit, you create “the itch scratch cycle”. This condition can cause the affected skin to become discolored, thick and leathery.

What are some complications of Eczema?

Skin Infections
Repeated scratching that breaks the skin can cause open sores and cracks. Your barrier is already different from the gene variation and makes it more likely for infection to ensue. Risk of infection from bacteria and viruses, including the herpes simplex virus.

Irritant Hand Dermatitis
This especially affects people whose work requires that their hands are often wet and exposed to harsh soaps, detergents, and disinfectants. I recommend people with a history of child atopic dermatitis to pick a work field that does not include the above.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis
This condition is common in people with atopic dermatitis.

Sleep Problems
The itch-scratch cycle can cause poor sleep quality, and irritability.

How do you treat Eczema?

The great news is that we have many different modalities at our disposal. The last few years and the next few upcoming years atopic dermatitis has been the forefront of cutting-edge medications. These include great injectables like Dupixent. The future is becoming less itchy and red for people dealing with it!

“Be good to your skin. You’ll wear it every day for the rest of your life.”

Reno Tahoe Dermatology serves Reno, Sparks, Spanish Springs, Sun Valley, Lake Tahoe in Northern Nevada & East California.

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