Eczema or atopic dermatitis is a common, chronic, and relapsing skin disorder usually beginning in early childhood and affecting approximately twenty percent of children but only two percent of adults. The main symptom of eczema is dry, red, itchy, and scaling patches of skin, which is due to a hypersensitivity of the immune system within the skin, causing inappropriate inflammation.
Eczema is commonly seen as part of the Atopic Triad: Eczema, Asthma, and Seasonal Allergies. They all represent diseases of an inappropriately overactive immune system and commonly cluster within families. Food allergies and environmental allergens are common in individuals with eczema and are known triggers for flares of the disease. Allergy skin testing can help identify and avoid triggers to help prevent eczema flares.
Treatment for eczema typically involves the use of topical steroid creams in various strengths, but newer, steroid-free anti-inflammatory creams are also options for chronic disease or more sensitive skin areas. Biologic therapy is the newest treatment option for severe disease. These medications, such as Dupixent, are injections of antibodies that block specific communication molecules within the immune system. Finally, allergy immunotherapy can also successfully prevent flares of eczema in patients who have tested positive to an allergic trigger.