Eczema (also called atopic dermatitis) is an inherited skin condition in which patients develop inflamed, itchy patches on the skin, most often the extremities, trunk, and face. Eczema can be associated with asthma, hay fever, and allergies in the patient or family members. About 15 million people in the U.S. suffer from some form of eczema, including 10-20 percent of all infants.
Objects and conditions that trigger outbreaks may include rough or coarse materials touching the skin, excessive heat, soaps, detergents, dust mites and stress.
Routine skin care and maintenance involve the use of moisturizing lotions or creams, cool compresses and nonprescription anti-inflammatory corticosteroid creams. In case of a more severe flare, physicians may prescribe stronger corticosteroid creams, antibiotics to combat infection, and sedative antihistamines. Occasionally, short courses of oral corticosteroids are needed. Other treatments include non-steroidal creams such as Protopic, Elidel, and Eucrisa.