Dermatitis and eczema are terms that are often used interchangeably. There are many different types and causes of eczema.
- Atopic dermatitis (AKA atopic eczema) is the name for a type of eczema that people are born with. The cause is not known but is presumed to be due to an altered skin barrier and an altered immune system.
- Irritant dermatitis is a type of eczema that results from exposure to irritating chemicals such as bleach or harsh cleansers.
- Allergic contact dermatitis is a type of eczema that results from exposure to a chemical that an individual is allergic to.
- Dyshidrotic eczema is a type of eczema that affects the hands and feet, often with blisters. The cause is not known.
- Seborrheic dermatitis is a common type of eczema that primarily effects the scalp. It can also affect the face and, less commonly, other body areas. The cause is not known but may be related to a yeast called pityrosporum ovale (also known as malassezia furfur).
The diagnosis of eczema can usually be made visually. In some cases, where the diagnosis or cause is not obvious, a biopsy and/or patch testing (a form of allergy testing) can be helpful.
The most important aspect of treatment is to identify and address the source of the condition. Once the source has been identified, your physician can make skin care recommendations and prescribe medications that can help to correct and control your condition.
Self-care tips that may be suggested by your dermatologist:
- Bathing—use lukewarm water. Showers are better. Do not use standard bar soap. Use a mild substitute cleansing bar or liquid that your dermatologist recommends.
- Protect the skin from irritating chemicals or known allergens.
- Clothing—wear soft cotton clothes that are comfortable and not tight. Avoid wool if possible.
- Moisturizers—apply non-perfumed moisturizers liberally and as often as necessary, particularly after bathing. Dermatologists can recommend appropriate products.
Treatment options include:
- Topical steroids
- Non-steroidal topical medications including tacrolimus (Protopic®), Pimecrolimus (Elidel®) and Eucrisa®
- Ketoconazole or Ciclopirox cream (primarily for seborrheic dermatitis®)
- Antibiotics (topical and oral®)
- Oral antihistamines to control itching
- Systemic steroids and other oral immunosuppressing agents
- Phototherapy and laser
Our dermatologists have extensive experience treating all forms of eczema and have access to all the latest treatments. We also have clinical trials available if you need access to new potentially cutting-edge treatments.