Home / Medical Dermatology / Eczema

What is eczema?

Eczema (or atopic dermatitis) is a very common inflammatory disorder of the skin. It affects approximately 35 million people in America. It’s more common in children, and most (but not all) kids grow out of it.

The kind of eczema that one has as a child that tends to be very chronic and widespread is usually called atopic dermatitis. Other variants of dry, inflamed skin that we call eczema tend to be less severe and may occur in adults with no history of atopic dermatitis.

In general, if you suffer from any form of atopic dermatitis, areas/patches of skin will tend to be dry, itchy, cracked, and easily irritated by fragrance, alcohol or anything that is drying on the skin.

To learn more about eczema and the treatment options available to you, schedule an appointment with Steele Dermatology online or give us a call at (770) 464-6000.

What causes eczema?

We don’t know exactly why one child gets atopic dermatitis and one doesn’t, but we’ve started to get some clues as to what predisposes someone to get it.

  • Genetics plays some role since we know that you’re at increased risk if your parent(s) had atopic dermatitis.
  • There are likely some environmental risk factors in childhood that may cause you to develop it, but we are still determining what they may be.
  • With the development of newer medications for the disorder, we know that there are certain chemical pathways that turn on in those with atopic dermatitis that don’t turn on in others. For adults who get mild, scattered areas of eczema (not severe atopic dermatitis), dry skin is the biggest contributor.

Where do you get eczema?

For kids with atopic dermatitis, it can occur any and everywhere, like the face, scalp, genitals, etc. The most common locations are behind the knees and elbows, face, and torso. As kids get older, usually they have fewer areas affected less often.

For adults with new patchy eczema, you usually have few, random, scattered areas that can occur anywhere. Hand eczema is particularly common in adults and can be quite severe and chronic.

How do we treat eczema?

For decades we only had medicated topical (creams, ointments, sprays, lotions) treatments for eczema. They consisted of steroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, and moisturizing barrier repair creams.

Fortunately, we know have a systemic medicine for severe atopic dermatitis and eczema that works well. It is in the category of medicines called “biologics” and works by using antibodies to block the signaling pathway for eczema inflammation.

It is important for kids (and adults) with suspected atopic dermatitis to get medical treatment. Although moisturizers and naturally soothing products can help a bit, prescription treatment is usually necessary for the more moderate-severe cases to completely heal the skin and prevent infection, scars or sores.

Recommended products

Schedule an Appointment

With offices conveniently located in Atlanta and Alpharetta, Steele Dermatology offers experienced eczema treatments and skincare products for our patients. To learn which treatment may be right for you, schedule an appointment or give us a call at (770) 464-6000.