Eczema, also called "atopic dermatitis" when it begins in childhood, manifests as scaly, dry, red skin patches. It is not contagious, but it can worsen with very dry winter weather, drying heat in homes, long hot showers, fragrances, oils, animal hair, wool and synthetic fabrics, cigarette smoke and environmental irritants. Eczema is treated with emollition (via moisturizing techniques), topical prescription creams, humidifying the environment and oral medications (antihistamines) to reduce itching and scratching.
Signs and symptoms include rashes, peeling skin, coloring changes, blisters, redness, and inflammation. Itching is almost always present, and may be a reaction to a certain chemical. A physical exam and skin biopsy may be done to determine if eczema is the cause of the irritation. Testing the skin for allergies may be helpful in determining the cause of the rash. Eczema is recurring and chronic condition for many people.
Without treatment and management, eczema can make daily living difficult and uncomfortable, especially during a flare-up. Quality of life may suffer because of difficulties at school, work, or social activities. Children with eczema may find it tough to sit through a whole class or worry about others seeing the rashes. Adults may be self-conscious and it can affect career choices, social life, and intimate relationships. The consistent itching is disruptive for all ages.
Visit Dr. Zizmor for a consultation.