What Is Eczema?
Eczema is a chronic condition characterized by red, itchy dry patches on the skin. It’s common in children but can occur at any age and can be associated with asthma, hay fever, or food allergies. Eczema can be managed and new outbreaks can be prevented.
Factors that contribute to eczema outbreaks include family history and triggers to an over-reactive immune system. Also, some people with eczema fail to make enough filaggrin, a protein that helps to build a strong, protective skin barrier.
Eczema symptoms vary widely from person to person. The most common are red to brown-colored patches on the hands, feet, neck, wrists, chest, ankles, eyelids, and inside the bend of knees and elbows. Other symptoms include:
Patches of dry, itchy skin that may become inflamed
Small, red bumps that open and ooze fluid when scratched
Rashes that may crust over
Cracked, thick skin
Red or brown patches on the face and scalp of babies
Eczema symptoms can be managed by a dermatologist using a variety of treatments:
Topical medications – Topical eczema treatments are applied to the skin to reduce itching and inflammation. The cream or ointment may contain a corticosteroid. Topical immunomodulators, such as tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel), stop the immune system from overreacting to triggers.
Oral medications – Prescription antihistamines and corticosteroids may ease itching and control inflammation. Steroids are for short-term use because of potential side effects.
Injectable biologic – Dupixent (dupilumab) is the first biologic medication approved for adults with moderate to severe eczema who have not responded to other treatments. After an initial loading dose, it is administered as an injection every other week.
Light therapy – Skin is exposed to ultraviolet therapy. It may be used in combination with prescription medications.
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