Eczema 101

Everything you need to know about eczema

(RxWiki News) More than 31 million people in the United States have eczema, according to the National Eczema Association. But many do not know the basics of this common condition.

This quick guide to eczema basics can fix that. Read on to learn what you need to know about eczema.

What Is Eczema?

Also called atopic dermatitis, eczema is the name for a few different types of skin swelling. While it is not dangerous, it can cause red and itchy rashes all over the body.

Symptoms can range from relatively mild to extremely severe, and they often become less severe over time.

What Causes Eczema?

There is no single cause of eczema, but several factors are thought to contribute to eczema and eczema flare-ups. These include the following:

  • Gene variations that affect the skin's ability to act as a barrier
  • Certain bacteria on the skin
  • Dysfunction in the immune system
  • Environmental conditions and allergies

Symptoms of Eczema

Symptoms of eczema are typically quite noticeable for those affected by this condition. Common symptoms include the following:

  • Swollen, sensitive and raw skin
  • Dry, scaly, cracked or thickened skin
  • Small, raised bumps on the skin
  • Red or brown patches on the skin, typically on the hands, wrists, neck, ankles, feet, upper chest or elbows

Is Eczema Contagious?

Researchers may not know the precise cause of eczema, but they do know this: You can't catch eczema from someone else. That's because it's not contagious. That's true whether a person has a severe eczema rash or isn't showing symptoms at all.

Treatments for Eczema

There are various treatments for eczema, ranging from topical creams to oral medications. Here are some of the most common types of eczema treatments:

  • Topical corticosteroid creams to reduce inflammation and itching
  • Creams that contain calcineurin inhibitors to help repair damaged skin
  • Oral antihistamines to control itching
  • Injected and oral drugs meant to reduce inflammation associated with eczema

If you believe you have eczema, reach out to your health care provider.