Sydney is a contributing health writer and editor who enjoys shedding light on health topics, making information available to anyone who wants it, and ending stigmas or lack of access to care and treatment.
Dr. Aaron Wiegmann
Dr. Wiegmann earned his medical degree (M.D.) from Rush Medical College and completed his General Surgery residency at Rush University Medical Center and Cook County Hospital. He has a Master's Degree (M.S.) in clinical research and has published numerous peer-reviewed articles.
April 26, 2021
Eczema is actually a blanket term that covers multiple skin conditions that inflame or irritate the skin. The most common of these conditions is called “atopic eczema” or “atopic dermatitis, with the word atopic indicating that this is an allergic reaction. Eczema is fairly common in infants, affecting approximately 10-20% of that population, with a large amount of them growing out of it.
For professional help treating eczema, you can make an appointment through our partner, PlushCare. They are a trusted telehealth company that provides affordable, secure, convenient online doctors appointments. Get eczema diagnosed and treated from the comfort of your home.
Because eczema is first and foremost an allergic reaction, the best physician from which to seek treatment is an allergist. There is no cure for eczema, however the symptoms can be controlled. The best thing you can do is get a diagnosis and work out methods with your doctor for managing eczema.
Symptoms of atopic eczema vary between the age populations. In infants you may notice a rash that oozes and becomes crusty. It is most common on the face and scalp, though it can also affect the trunk and appendages. This rash is itchy, so infants suffering from eczema may rub themselves against their bedding. They may also be excessively fussy to communicate their discomfort.
For adults, eczema can manifest as widely varying symptoms. These include any combination of the following:
In children a parent may notice a scaly rash on the hands, arms, legs, or face. At intervals the skin may blister. The itch caused by this rash can be excessive and painful, and lead to disrupted sleep. Children may also be prone to infections from excessive scratching which breaks the skin. Be sure to address the rash with creams and ointments to give relief, and encourage your child to avoid scratching if possible. Contact a doctor if you notice signs of infection such as pus, red streaks, or yellow skin.
In both children and adults, the most risk comes from the possibility of infection from excessive scratching. However, as frustrating if not more so is the problem of sleep disruption. Itching often becomes more severe at night and consistent loss of sleep can lead to medical complications. Contact your doctor if you notice signs of skin infection, or if eczema is disrupting your sleep cycle.
Children born to parents that have known allergies like hay fever or asthma are more likely to have this condition. About 3% of children and adults suffer from eczema, with most children outgrowing the condition by age 10. However, there are adults that continue to have eczema symptoms intermittently throughout their lives.
“Eczema most commonly shows up before the age of 5”, notes The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, “but adolescents and adults can also develop the condition. About 60 percent of patients will experience eczema symptoms by age 1, and another 30 percent will experience symptoms by age 5.”
For those with cases of mild to moderate eczema, they may be able to control symptoms through preventative measures, such as the following.
For severe cases, a healthcare professional may recommend a prescription medication such as a topical steroid or antihistamine. For less severe cases a specialized ointment or moisturizer may be used for relief. If you’re in need of prescriptions from a general doctor, you can meet with a PlushCare doctor and get the necessary medications.
As with other allergic reactions, the symptoms of eczema will vary widely from person to person. The most important way to treat eczema is to find the routine that works best for you. By working together with a board-certified allergist, you can create a prevention and proactive plan to address your own specific symptoms and allergic triggers.
While atopic eczema is the most common form of eczema, there are other, less common types. Contact dermatitis is a form of dermatitis that is caused by an irritant damaging the skin.
Because eczema is an allergic reaction, it is not contagious. It is considered a part of what is called “the atopic march”–a graduating set of allergic conditions that follow one another in this order: eczema in infancy to food allergy, hay fever, and asthma. If a child has a severe case of eczema it is a good idea to test for food allergies.
Advances are being made all the time in the treatment of eczema, so contacting a physician is the best way to ensure that you’re receiving the best treatment possible.
New treatment options are underway, as well as biologic therapies that target specific immune pathways. Most of these are being studied in adults and older children, but because this is a fast-moving area of study it is best to contact a board-certified allergist to be sure of getting the latest information.
While you can’t cure our eczema, you can get it properly diagnosed and treated with the help of our partner, PlushCare. Make an appointment to get eczema treatment online from the comfort of your own home.
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