Elizabeth Otero, M.D.

Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)

Eczema is a skin problem. Your skin may:
  Feel dry.
  Flake or scale.
  Look red.

You may get eczema when:
There is a change in the weather or humidity, especially when it gets dry.
You eat some kinds of foods.
You take some kinds of medicines.

If you have asthma or hay fever, you may get eczema often.
Eczema often runs in families.
If you have mild eczema, you may have patches of dry, scaly skin on your arms or legs. It may itch.
If the eczema is bad, you may have painful itching.

You may itch on the:
Fronts of your elbows.
Backs of your knees.

It may bother you to:
Be touched.
Wear scratchy fabrics, such as wool.
Eczema often gets worse in the winter. Indoor air can be very dry.

Your allergist will:
Look at your skin.
Ask about your history and your family's history of rashes.
Ask about other problems you or your family may have, like allergies or asthma.

Severe eczema can be harder to treat.

You may find it helpful to:
Take antihistamines. Some antihistamines can be bought at a store without a prescription. For others you will need a prescription.
Use steroid creams prescribed by your provider.
Prevent dryness by putting moisturizing cream or ointment on your skin.
Reduce dust mites in your home and avoid any other potential trigger as foods you may be allergic to.
Be sure to use medicines exactly the way Dr. Otero and Kristin prescribed them.
Put cream or ointment on your skin. Use moisturizing cream or ointment, rather than water-based lotion, many times a day.
Do not bathe a lot. It can make eczema worse.

Water, as it evaporates off your skin, makes your skin dry.
Take sponge baths between baths or showers.
Reduce dust mites. Some people who have bad eczema may be allergic to dust mites.

These very tiny bugs:
Live on flaked-off dry skin and dust.
Live in bedding, carpets, drapes, and in furniture.
You can buy special covers for your bed and pillows. There are other things you can do so that there are fewer dust mites in your house. Talk to Dr. Otero or Kristin about it.

To prevent mild eczema, you may need to:
Stay away from some kinds of foods if they make your eczema worse.
Stay away from some kinds of medicines if they make your eczema worse.

Severe eczema is an inherited problem. We do not know how to prevent this kind of eczema. Because it may flare up when you are stressed, it may help to try to have less stress in your life. When a flare-up happens, follow your healthcare provider's advice to get the eczema back under control.

See Dr. Otero or Kristin if it is not getting better. We may order allergy skin and/or blood testing to determine potential allergenic triggers.