Irritated by Eczema
Successful eczema treatment depends on a precise diagnosis. Why? Several different conditions can cause this skin disorder.
By Daniel DeNoon
Reviewed By Charlotte Grayson
Eczema isn't just one thing. Several quite different conditions cause the itchy skin condition. Early on, it looks like red skin that can develop oozing blisters. Later, the skin can get scaly or thick.
It's not easy to tell one kind of eczema from another. That's why you need to see a doctor about it. Successful eczema treatment depends on the correct diagnosis.
The vast majority of people with eczema have atopic dermatitis, an allergic symptom. That's the kind that shows up early in life, almost always by age 5. Eczema that shows up later than this usually is another kind of eczema.
"Atopic dermatitis, asthma, and allergic rhinitis (think hay fever) -- that's what we call the allergic triad," dermatologist Jeffrey Weinberg, MD, director of clinical research at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York, tells WebMD.
A lot of people think eczema is a food allergy. But there's little evidence for this, Weinberg says. In his experience, food allergies cause eczema only in some younger children.
The good news is that by the time they reach their teens, 70% to 80% of kids find that their eczema is much less severe. But about half will have some symptoms throughout their lives.
There are several treatment strategies available:
Published August 2003.
SOURCES: Jeffrey Weinberg, MD, director of clinical research, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York. American Academy of Dermatology.
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