What is Eczema

As seen in the Consultant Connection November 2015 Issue
Irene Sours, RN, WCC, Nurse Consultant
Eczema is a nonspecific term for many types of skin inflammation (dermatitis).  There are different categories of eczema, which include allergic, contact, irritant, and nummular eczema, which can be difficult to distinguish from atopic dermatitis (AD).  Atopy is a medical syndrome that includes three associated conditions that tend to occur in the same individual: atopic dermatitis, inhalant allergies and asthma.  All three components need not to present in the same individual simultaneously.
Atopic dermatitis is a disease that causes itchy, inflamed skin that is not contagious.  Appropriately 31.6 million people in United States have symptoms of eczema or eczematous conditions, and 17.8 million for atopic dermatitis, considered a more form of eczema.
Atopic dermatitis almost always begins in childhood, usually during infancy and fades during childhood though people with AD may have lifelong tendency for “flare-ups.”
Treatment goal is to relieve discomfort by controlling the signs and symptoms of dryness and itching.
Treatment options:
  • Emollient moisturizer-free of additives, fragrances, perfumes; lotions have higher water content and tend to evaporate quickly.
  • Emollients should be used at least twice a day all over the skin.  They are best applied within three minutes after a shower or bath to maximize their moisture retaining effect.
  • Corticosteroid creams-tend to rapidly and effectively reduce inflammation, which relieves itching.
  • Non-soap cleansers, such as Cetaphil, or moisturizing soaps such as Dove, are recommended.
  • Researchers have found that using both a topical corticosteroid and moisturizer decreases this signs and symptoms of AD better than use of topical corticosteroid alone.  Studies also have found that proper use of a moisturizer along with a topical corticosteroid can reduce the amount of corticosteroid needed.  This suggests that using an appropriate moisturizer may reduce the need for long-term corticosteroids.
For more information contact your nurse consultant.


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