What is eczema?

Eczema isn’t just one skin problem — it refers to eight types of inflammatory skin conditions. The most common form, atopic dermatitis, is often used synonymously with eczema.

The different types of eczema are:

  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Hand dermatitis
  • Dyshidrotic eczema
  • Nummular eczema
  • Stasis dermatitis

Though eczema can first appear in adulthood, it usually occurs in infants and young children, with 60% of cases developing before the age of one. For some children, it persists into adulthood.

What are the symptoms of eczema?

Two common symptoms — itching and redness — are found in all the different types of eczema. In many cases, eczema produces severe itchiness.

Beyond red skin, its appearance varies. You may develop dry, red skin that’s scaly or skin that’s red and swollen. In others, a bumpy red rash appears, or blisters form that ooze and then scab. Eczema can also be painful.

What triggers eczema?

Eczema symptoms flare up in response to specific triggers. When an irritant or allergen affects your immune system, it produces inflammation that leads to eczema symptoms. These triggers are different for each person, but some of the most common include:

  • Skin irritants: soap, skin care products, disinfectants
  • Allergens: pet hair, food, pollen
  • Environmental factors: heat, cigarette smoke, high or low humidity
  • Emotional factors: stress, anxiety

How is eczema treated?

Dr. Hurst may recommend several strategies to relieve a current eczema flare-up and to prevent future problems. Your treatment may include:

  • Lifestyle Changes: Dr. Hurst can help you identify your triggers and create a plan to avoid them or minimize their impact
  • Skin Care Regimen: You’ll need to keep your skin well moisturized to prevent flare-ups and relieve itching. You may also need to use mild soap and bathe in cool to lukewarm water to avoid a flare-up.
  • Medical Care: Dr. Hurst may prescribe topical creams or oral medications that fight inflammation and itching. Phototherapy, which is therapeutic exposure to ultraviolet light, also helps alleviate eczema.

Identifying eczema early can help keep symptoms under control and prevent the condition from worsening. Call Dr. Hurst to schedule an appointment to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment.