What is Eczema?

E

czema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is an itchy inflammation of the upper layers of skin. It is very common, with more than 3 million cases per year. It presents a red, scaly, itchy rash that is easily mistaken for other skin conditions.

Symptoms are usually most noticeable on the arms and behind the knees. However, eczema can appear anywhere throughout the body. The cracked, rough skin affected by the condition can sometimes develop painful blisters.

What Causes Eczema?

The exact cause of eczema is not yet known. However, it is believed to be related to malfunction of the body’s immune system. Like asthma and hay fever, eczema may ultimately be caused by an immune system overreaction that creates an allergic response to common irritants. Futher clinical research into the cause of Eczema are ongoing.

How is Eczema Diagnosed?

About 10% to 20% of infants and 3% of children and adults in the United States have eczema. Overall, about 10% of people have some form of eczema. At any age, the majority of people who present symptoms of eczema have had the condition since very early in life.

Most infants will outgrow the condition, but not all.

To diagnose eczema, a doctor will look at family history. Families with an existing history of eczema, allergies, asthma, or defects in the skin barrier are more likely to see cases of eczema. No lab tests are needed, but a skin patch test is used to rule out other conditions.

How is Eczema Treated or Cured?

The majority of eczema patients will experience periodic flare-ups of the condition. Between these flare-ups, the condition may be asymptomatic – that is, patients will not experience any discomfort. Eczema is not contagious, so these periods are uneventful. With Eczema being a condition affecting a large number of individuals, a wide array of clinical trials are ongoing.

During eczema flare-ups, a doctor may recommend many types of treatment to reduce symptoms. The most common is medicated cream that reduces the itching and repairs damage to affected skin. Over time, patients learn which medication is best for them.

Eczema can be compounded by a bacterial infection from the open cracks or sores in the skin. In this case, antibacterial medication must be used to fight infection. In severe flare-ups, oral corticosteroids are recommended to reduce the body’s inflammation response.

An appropriate course of proactive treatment significantly reduces the complications and the discomfort associated with eczema. Although new treatments have shown promise, there is no cure for the condition.

Eczema Clinical Trials

The following clinical trial are the most up to date provided by Clinicaltrials.gov. If you would like us to feature some additional trials, please feel free to notify our team.

Eczema Lifestyle Changes and Friends and Family

Patients coping with a new eczema diagnosis or long-term eczema symptoms may be able to reduce flare-ups by learning about what worsens their condition. As with conventional allergies, many different environmental stressors can trigger a flare-up.

After a diagnosis, it is a good idea to keep a symptom journal. Patients should list out symptoms, when and where they occurred, and if there were any factors that might have contributed. Over time, it can become much easier to notice and avoid eczema triggers.

Food is among the most common eczema trigger. Some people experience heavy symptoms after exposure to nuts or dairy. It isn’t necessary to consume these foods to have symptoms: Just touching them can be enough. Dietary triggers should be eliminated entirely.

Certain soaps, detergents, and shampoos are common triggers. Patients should be especially careful about commercial antibacterial hand soap. Since bacteria can also exacerbate symptoms, it is important to find bathroom soaps that do not contribute to symptoms.

Eczema may be sensitive to extreme humidity or hot or cold temperatures. This causes eczema in some people to have a seasonal cycle. No matter the time of year, stress can make symptoms worse.