What is eczema?

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a chronic skin condition with sufferers experiencing itchy, inflamed patches of red scaly skin. Up to 30 million Americans suffer from eczema, according to the National Eczema Association. Because this condition is so itchy, patients often scratch their skin continually, causing lesions that can become crusty and ooze. Eczema usually begins in early childhood and flares up periodically then subsides.

What causes eczema?

The cause of eczema is not known, but it is thought to have a genetic component, as the condition often runs in families. Eczema is most likely the result of various factors, including: dryness, a reduction in the skin’s barrier that locks in moisture, immune system dysfunction, bacteria on the skin’s surface, and environmental conditions.

How is eczema treated?

While there is no cure for eczema, the doctor’s at Colorado Skin Surgery and Dermatology can help alleviate symptoms and control flare-ups. Treatment options include:

  • Corticosteroid cream or ointments to control itching and inflammation.
  • Creams, called calcineurin inhibitors, that help repair the skin.
  • Oral antibiotics, prescribed if a bacterial skin infection is present, due to open sores or cracked skin, caused by scratching.
  • Oral anti-itch medication.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs, either taken orally or injected.
  • Light therapy, which involves exposure to controlled amounts of artificial ultraviolet light.