Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic inflammation of the outer layers of the skin.
The exact cause of eczema is not known. Factors that may contribute to eczema include:
Eczema is more common in people of African or Asian descent.
Factors that increase your chance of eczema include:
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
The symptoms vary from person to person. Scratching and rubbing can cause or worsen some of the symptoms. Symptoms include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The diagnosis is made by the appearance and location of the rash. You may be referred to specialist. A dermatologist focuses on skin disorders. An allergist focuses on allergies.
The main goals of eczema treatments are to:
Treatment options may vary. Your doctor may recommend more than one depending on your condition. They include:
Proper skin care may allow the skin to heal. Treatment may include the following:
In some cases, medication may also be needed and may include:
If skin care and medications are not effective, light therapy may be used. This may include:
It is difficult to prevent eczema. This is most true when there is a strong family history.
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
National Eczema Society
Canadian Dermatology Association
Atopic dermatitis. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aad.org/skin-conditions/dermatology-a-to-z/atopic-dermatitis. Accessed January 22, 2015.
Atopic dermatitis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Atopic_Dermatitis/. Updated May 2013. Accessed January 22, 2015.
Barnetson RS, Rogers M. Childhood atopic eczema. BMJ. 2002;324:1376-1379.
Brehler R, Hildebrand A, Luger T. Recent developments in treatment of atopic eczema. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1997;36:983-994.
Holscher B, Frye C, Wichmann HE, Heinrich J. Exposure to pets and allergies in children. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2002;13:334-341.
Mohla G, Horvath N, Stevens S. Quality of life improvement in a patient with severe atopic dermatitis treated with photopheresis. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1999;40(5 Pt 1):780-782.
Saarinen UM, Kajosaari M. Breastfeeding as prophylaxis against atopic disease: prospective follow-up study until 17 years old. Lancet. 1995;346:1065-1069.
Skin allergy. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology website. Available at: http://www.aaaai.org/patients/allergic_conditions/eczema.stm. Accessed January 22, 2015.
Wahn U, Bos JD, Goodfield M, et al. Efficacy and safety of pimecrolimus cream in the long-term management of atopic dermatitis in children. Pediatrics. 2002;110(1 Pt 1):e2.
7/6/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Langan SM, Flohr C, Williams HC. The role of furry pets in eczema: a systematic review. Arch Dermatol. 2007;143:1570-1577.
6/4/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Alexander DD, Cabana MD. Partially hydrolyzed 100% whey protein infant formula and reduced risk of atopic dermatitis: a meta-analysis. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2010;50(4):422-430.
1/4/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Dotterud CK, Storr O, Johnsen R, Oien T. Probiotics in pregnant women to prevent allergic disease: a randomized, double-blind trial. Br J Dermatol. 2010;163:616-623.
1/4/2016 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Zhang A, Silverberg JI. Association of atopic dermatitis with being overweight and obese: a systematic review and metaanalysis. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2015;72(4):606-618.
Last reviewed January 2015 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 1/4/2016