Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a genetic autoimmune condition in which the immune system response to internal and external factors and irritants, such as soaps, clothing, extreme temperatures and cold or hot weather. Eczema is usually marked by dry and red patches of skin that itch and tend to worsen when scratched. Patches of eczema occur most often on the body, arms, and legs, especially in crease, like elbows and behind the knees, but it can appear anywhere on the body. In adults, the hands are most commonly involved. If the skin is repeatedly scratched, the skin may become thick and coarse or become infected. There are many treatment options for treating eczema. To reduce the itching, your doctor may prescribe steroidal creams or antibiotics if an infection is present. Phototherapy or other treatments may also be recommended.
This is the most commonly used therapy for eczema. It includes emollients (moisturizers), topical steroids, and non-steroidal inflammatory products. Topical creams are most appropriate for patients with mild eczema or for maintenance therapy in those with more severe disease.
Oral medications are some times needed to combat flares and treat more severe eczema patients. Oral antibiotics may also be used to treat infections, such as staph, in patients with more severe or infected lesions.