What is Eczema?
Eczema is one of the most common rashes we see at Treasure Valley Dermatology. In fact, nearly 30
million Americans suffer from some form of eczema. The rash appears as red scaly patches of skin and
tends to be very itchy. Itch often proceeds the rash which is why eczema is commonly referred to as “the
itch that rashes.” Eczema most commonly appears in childhood and goes away as a child grows older, but
it can start at any point in life. More severe cases of eczema are often referred to as atopic
What Causes Eczema?
While an exact cause of eczema is not known, there are certainly genetic and environmental factors
involved. Eczema is a problem with the skin barrier and it tends to run in families. In normal skin, the
skin provides excellent protection to external substances that could damage or irritate the skin. In
those with eczema, the skin barrier isn’t fully intact which causes increased water loss, leading to dry
and irritated skin. This poor barrier also allows external substances like irritants and allergens to
cause a localized immune response leading to increased inflammation and itching.
How is Eczema Treated?
Unfortunately, there is not a definitive cure for eczema, but there are highly effective management
strategies to control eczema. Fortunately, most people eventually outgrow their eczema. Treatment is
focused on managing symptoms and improving the skin barrier to reduce dryness and irritation of the
skin. To help those with eczema, we emphasize the following management strategies:
- Avoid hot baths or showers as these dry out the skin
- Use mild soaps such as Dove or Cetaphil
- Moisturize immediately after bathing
- Use moisturizers as often as needed throughout the day
More severe cases may require use of prescription medications to get the rash under control. We most
commonly use the following treatments to manage eczema:
Topical Steroids These topical anti-inflammatory medications are a mainstay of
treatment in those with mild to moderate eczema.
Oral Antibiotics In cases where a bacterial infection is present, these may be used
to clear the infection and decrease inflammation.
Oral Steroids Use of systemic anti-inflammatory medications such as prednisone are
reserved for short term use in severe cases not able to be controlled with more conservative methods.
Immunomodulatory Medications In very severe cases of eczema oral medication can be
used to help control the rash. Under the care of a board-certified dermatologist these medications are
used safely and with great success. Examples include methotrexate, cyclosporine, and Dupixient
(dipilumab) which has a high success rate and few if any side effects. Eczema can be controlled with a
proper treatment plan and we can help you achieve clear and comfortable skin.
If you or your child suffers from eczema, please call Treasure Valley Dermatology and
schedule an appointment with one of our providers.
Eczema conditions and treatment options can vary significantly from patient to patient. Ask the
experts at Treasure Valley Dermatology how to effectively treat your eczema skin condition.