Eczema, also known as Atopic Dermatitis, is a common rash treated by dermatologists. Eczema can start in early childhood but can affect any age group. Eczema is seen on the skin as red, flaky patches of dry skin. It can be extremely itchy and can have a strong negative impact of quality of life.
Eczema is caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Eczema is more common in dry climates (including Colorado) and in the winter. It can be aggravated by harsh soap, hot water, and even certain types of clothing. Genetic factors involve a disruption of the barrier function of the skin, allowing more water to escape and more irritants to enter the skin. People with eczema also have an imbalance in some immune system functions particular to the skin.
Many treatments exist for eczema. Use of a mild soap and a good moisturizing cream after every shower or bath is helpful. Prescription topical therapies include topical steroids and calcineurin inhibitors. Occasionally, patches of eczema may become infected, requiring antibiotics. For moderate-severe eczema which does not respond to topical treatment, there are oral and injectable options as well.
Dermatitis is a broad term referring to inflammation in the skin. The most common types of dermatitis are allergic and irritant contact dermatitis. Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when your skin comes into contact with something you're allergic to. Examples of allergens include perfume, nickel, and certain preservatives. Irritant contact dermatitis occurs after exposure to irritating chemicals such as harsh soaps and detergents. Prolonged exposure to water is also a cause of irritant dermatitis.
Other types of dermatitis include seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff), stasis dermatitis, and nummular dermatitis.
Your dermatologist will determine which type of dermatitis you have and will prescribe the appropriate treatment.