The Eczema

I have atopic dermatitis (eczema). What is this condition and how is it treated?

Eczema, which is also known as atopic dermatitis, forms part of what is known as the "atopic triad," which also includes allergies and asthma. This reminds me of some sort of promotional gimmick used with Cracker Jack prizes and the toys in fast food kids' meals - collect them all! Depending on how lucky you are, you might get the eczema alone or in this combination.

Atopic dermatitis is characterized as a scaly rash that is often reddish and may be found most commonly in the folds of the skin, such as on the neck, the elbows, and backs of the knees. The condition may sometimes be attributed to the working environment, such as nurses and doctors who must frequently wash their hands and develop hand eczema as a result. Most cases, however, develop in early childhood.

Although atopic dermatitis often pops up in very young kids, it tends to clear up after those early years, and is much less commonly found in adults. For some people, the condition goes away entirely. On the other hand, eczema may reappear after a long absence because an environmental factor prompts it to flare up again. Irritating chemicals, laundry detergents, and harsh soaps should all be avoided to dodge further problems, but certain perfumes or fragrances, and even stress may also be culprits. A woman may even take preventive measures against the condition by using moisturizers and humidifiers to keep her skin well hydrated - and, of course, finding a way to escape from the everyday stresses in her life.

No matter when the rash-like symptoms appear, if using extra moisturizer isn't enough, the condition may be further treated with medications. Very often oral antihistamines, taken to reduce itchiness, and a topical steroid cream can do the trick, but more stubborn cases may require the administration of steroids orally or via injection. It is important to look out for deeper cracks in the skin with eczema, since they may allow for an infection to develop, which could easily make it necessary to undergo a more vigorous treatment regimen.

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