Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is an allergic condition that causes inflammation of the skin. It can be triggered by just about anything coming in contact with the skin. It occurs most commonly in people who have sensitive skin.

Overview and Symptoms

Eczema appears as dry, flaky skin over red, inflamed areas, and causes itching and burning. Many substances have been identified as triggers in patients with eczema; triggers are not the same for every person. For some, it seems that rough or coarse materials coming into contact with the skin causes itchiness. For others, feeling too hot and/or sweating will cause an outbreak. Other people find that certain soaps, detergents, disinfectants, contact with juices from fresh fruits and meats, dust mites, and animal saliva and dander may trigger itching. Upper respiratory infections (caused by viruses) may also be triggers. Stress can also sometimes aggravate an existing flare-up.

Treatment

Treatments for eczema include:

  • Application of creams and ointments to keep the skin as moist as possible
  • Application of corticosteroid creams or ointments to reduce inflammation
  • Oral corticosteroids for severe flares
  • Antibiotics for infections
  • Oral antihistamines for severe itching
  • Light therapy
  • Cyclosporine for severe cases

Learn More

The Division of Allergy and Inflammation specializes in the diagnosis, testing, and management of allergies, asthma and allergic immune system disorders.

Allergy and Inflammation