Westlake dermatologists explain the causes and treatments of eczema
Red, dry, or itchy skin can be annoying. Many of us get the occasional rash from insect bites, allergies, or environmental irritants. Unfortunately, regular or chronic rashes may signify an underlying problem. It is important to seek medical advice to ensure appropriate treatment. The team at Associates in Dermatology in Westlake explains the causes of eczema and offers treatments to soothe irritated skin.
Eczema symptoms and causes
Eczema is commonly characterized by red, itchy skin. It can appear anywhere on the body. Patients of any age can be affected by eczema, but it is most common in young children. Up to 20 percent of children are affected by this condition.
Although not considered an allergy, the symptoms of eczema resemble an allergic reaction. It is not contagious. The red, itchy patches of skin cannot be passed from person to person. The exact cause of eczema may be unknown, but it is thought to be triggered by an overactive response of the immune system. The following factors may play a role in this skin irritation:
- A weakened immune system
- Conditions such as hay fever or asthma
- Dry skin
- Insect bites
- Vein disorders
- Environmental factors
- Allergies to chemicals, metals, or other substances
- Skin exposure to irritating detergents or dyes
The most common symptom of eczema is itchy skin. Young children are known for scratching the affected areas and may cause further irritation or bleeding with excessive scratching. Other symptoms of eczema vary among patients. Symptoms may include the following:
- Dry skin
- Sensitive skin
- Red patchy areas
- Itchy skin
- Patches of dark-colored skin
- Rough, scaly skin
- Oozing or crusting
Skin conditions should be assessed by a dermatologist. A dermatologist can determine what may actually be causing the rash.Even though inflammation and rashes are common problems, they may signify deeper problems. The inflammation may be caused by the occasional itchy, red rash or by an underlying condition such as eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea. Each condition has rash-like symptoms that include red, itchy, and inflamed skin. However, the causes and treatments are different.
Many patients often try to self-diagnose and treat themselves without first seeking medical advice. Although at-home or do-it-yourself treatments sound easy and affordable, they may not be effective or appropriate for your actual condition. They may also cause negative or unwanted reactions. Skin conditions should be assessed by a physician. A dermatologist is trained and experienced in treating problems of the skin and can help determine the actual cause of the rash.
Eczema has no cure, but its symptoms can be managed and possibly avoided. Once the cause has been determined, the dermatologist can create a treatment plan. Depending on the severity, treatments may include oral medication, antibiotics, steroid cream, or phototherapy. A personalized treatment plan may include one or more of these therapies. If triggers for the condition are known, avoiding those also helps manage eczema symptoms.Back to Eczema Page