Eczema Causes and Treatment

We specialize in determining eczema causes and offer a variety of eczema treatment plan options at Vujevich Dermatology Associates.

Depending on your type of eczema and other factors, there are different eczema causes and treatment options available. Eczema does not have a cure, but proper treatment can help manage symptoms. Understanding what causes your eczema can help your dermatologist create a treatment plan tailored to you and help you manage your eczema symptoms more effectively.

What is eczema?

Eczema is a common term used to describe a group of skin conditions that cause inflammation and irritation of the skin.  Eczema affects approximately 10-20% of infants and approximately 3% of adults and children in the United States. While most people outgrow eczema by the age of 10, some people experience eczema symptoms for the rest of their lives. While some people have life-long symptoms of eczema, they occur sporadically.

What are the different eczema types?

There are six different types of eczema. These different types are atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, nummular eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and stasis dermatitis. The most common form of eczema is atopic dermatitis.

What are the different eczema symptoms?

Most symptoms are similar throughout all types of eczema. These symptoms include itchiness and skin that can be red, dry, leathery, or cracked.

Atopic dermatitis most often occurs on the cheek, legs, and arms. Atopic dermatitis can occur at any age, with symptoms changing throughout the lifespan. Infants are prone to developing sudden rashes that are very itchy due to their dry, scaly skin. In children, the dry, scaly skin will often turn bumpy. It is unlikely for someone to experience atopic dermatitis in adulthood if they did not show symptoms as infants or children.

Contact dermatitis occurs due to an allergic reaction. An itchy, red rash results from an irritant or allergen. Allergens include, but are not limited to, cosmetics, laundry detergent, and plants. The rash can appear up to a few hours after initial contact. If you are able to avoid additional exposure to the irritant, the rash should clear up within four weeks.

Small, extremely itchy blisters appear when dyshidrotic eczema occurs. These blisters are often found on the edges of fingers, toes, palms, and soles of the feet. Dyshidrotic eczema most often occurs in the spring and has a higher chance of occurring if you have a history of atopic dermatitis or contact dermatitis. The blisters can become infected if scratched too much.

Nummular eczema is characterized by tiny blister-like sores that are reddish in color and weep fluid. As the blisters evolve, they form a coin-shaped sore. Nummular eczema occurs after an injury to the skin has occurred, such as an insect-bite or burn. One or more patches of nummular eczema can occur and can last up to a few months.

Seborrheic dermatitis can occur anywhere on the body and can be identified by a rash that is reddish in color or a white or yellowish crusty surface. The rash can also appear swollen and greasy. One common form of seborrheic dermatitis is cradle cap in infants. While seborrheic dermatitis tends to go away on its own, both in children and adults, talking with a pediatric dermatologist can alleviate any parental concerns.

Stasis dermatitis is a form of eczema that most often occurs in the lower legs due to poor circulation. Swelling that occurs during the day and diminishes overnight, varicose veins, and a heaviness in the legs are possible  early signs of stasis dermatitis. As stasis dermatitis progresses, swelling will begin to spread past the ankle into the leg and open sores will begin to appear on the tops of the feet and lower legs.

What does eczema in adults look like?

In adults, eczema symptoms often appear on the face, back of knees, hands, wrists, and feet. The skin will likely be very thick, dry, or scaly. In people with lighter skin tones, the areas may start out as a reddish color and turn brown. In people with darker skin tones, the affected areas may become lighter or darker.

What causes eczema?

While there isn’t one known cause of eczema, people are more likely to experience this skin condition if they:

  • Have an immune system response to an irritant
  • Have a family history of asthma or allergies
  • Have a skin barrier that allows moisture out and germs in

Can stress cause eczema?

While you may not have a known cause for your eczema, there are common triggers that can bring about eczema symptoms. Stress is one of these triggers. Other triggers include:

  • sweating
  • animal dander
  • intense temperature changes
  • rough fabric
  • respiratory infections or colds

Eczema Treatment Options

There are different types of eczema treatment. Depending on the type of eczema and severity of the symptoms, treatment options include lifestyle changes, over-the-counter medications, and prescription medication.

Most eczema treatments, including atopic dermatitis treatment, will consist of at-home remedies. One way to help treat eczema symptoms, and also help prevent them, is to keep your skin moisturized. You can do this by applying moisturizer immediately after showering or washing your hands. You can also moisturize the skin by taking oatmeal baths and taking showers with lukewarm water.

At-home remedies also include learning to manage your stress and lifestyle changes. These changes may include using a humidifier and choosing skin products that are mild. Modifying your exercise routine, opting for gentle exercises such as walking or yoga, can help avoid flare ups.

Over-the-counter medications for eczema treatment are antihistamines and pain relievers. These medications can include topical hydrocortisone or shampoos to help eliminate eczema symptoms of the scalp.

There are a number of prescription medications that can be used to treat eczema, including topicals and oral medications. A common form of eczema treatment is a topical steroid cream. Eczema treatment cream reduces inflammation and itching, allowing the area to heal. Common oral medications include immunosuppressants, which help to stop the itch-scratch cycle.

Eczema causes and treatment can change throughout your life, but most eczema treatment plans include a combination of at-home remedies and medication. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss the best way to manage your eczema symptoms.