Eczema – What You Need to Know

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Published:  December 4, 2023

During the spring allergy pollen season, you might observe an itchy, red, rough-textured rash on exposed areas of your skin such as the arms, legs, neck, and face. This is a form of eczema that is triggered by exposure to pollen floating in our environment. This type of eczema, known as atopic dermatitis, is more commonly found in children but can be seen in adults as well. Eczema is a very common skin condition and can be present throughout the year in addition to the spring pollen season.

What is eczema?

  • “The itch that rashes”
  • Characterized by itchy, red, rough, bumpy, inflamed patches of the skin.
  • Encompasses many “rash diagnoses” including Atopic Dermatitis, Allergic Contact Dermatitis, Irritant Dermatitis, Dyshidrotic Dermatitis, Nummular Dermatitis, Seborrheic Dermatitis, and Dermatitis Herpetiformis.

What are some reasons why you develop eczema?

  • Food allergies (most commonly milk, egg, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts).
  • Environmental allergies (such as dust mites, pet dander, pollen).
  • Chemical sensitivities (such as nickel, latex, gold, hair products, detergents).
  • Underlying medical condition (such as Celiac Disease).
  • An underlying cause is not always identified.

What are some risk factors for developing eczema?

  • Family history of allergies, asthma, or eczema.
  • Personal history of allergies or asthma.
  • Occupational exposure to chemicals, irritants, or allergens.

What are some factors that can worsen eczema but are not the underlying cause?

  • Rough materials (such as polyester clothing).
  • Sweating.
  • Excessive hand washing.
  • Stress.
  • Upper respiratory infections.

What are the treatment options?

  • Ideally, we want to identify the underlying cause to “get to the root of the problem.” This can be done through skin testing or patch testing in our office.
  • Avoidance of triggers.
  • Appropriate skin care (frequent use of moisturizers).
  • Topical anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Steroids – such as hydrocortisone, mometasone, and triamcinolone.
  • Calcineurin Inhibitors – pimecrolimus, tacrolimus.
  • Topical Phosphodiesterase -4 (PDE-4) Inhibitors – crisaborole.
  • For severe exacerbations – oral steroids.
  • In chronic severe cases of eczema – Dupilumab.

If you feel that you are suffering from eczema and need to be evaluated, please call our office or schedule an appointment online.