Eczema

Henry Ford Dermatology has a range of treatment options to treat and control atopic dermatitis.

If you or your child has eczema, you may have a lot of questions. Fortunately, you’ve got a team of specialists on your side at Henry Ford Dermatology. We’re here with the expertise and treatment options to keep eczema under control.

Frequently asked questions about eczema

We’ve answered some of the commonly asked questions on this page.

  • What is eczema?

    Eczema is a chronic skin condition. It’s also known as atopic dermatitis. This condition usually starts in early childhood or infancy, though adults of any age can have it as well.

    Researchers believe a weakened or defective skin barrier (the outermost protective layer of skin) and problems with the immune system play a role in the development of eczema. However, doctors don’t know exactly what causes the disease.

    We do know genetics play a role in who gets eczema. People who have a mutation in a skin barrier protein called filaggrin are more likely to have atopic dermatitis than people without this mutation. People with the following risk factors also may be at greater risk for eczema:

    • Asthma
    • Allergic rhinitis
    • Family history of the disease

    There are other types of eczema besides atopic dermatitis. Some of these other varieties of eczema include dyshidrotic eczema and nummular eczema.

  • What does eczema look like?

    Eczema causes itchy, scaly, inflamed skin with oozing and crusting of the lesions (areas of damaged skin). These lesions can flare up and then disappear for months or years.

    Babies who have eczema usually have skin that is cracked, dry, itchy, and scaly. They may also have lesions with oozing or crusting. These lesions are usually on the:

    • Arms and legs at areas where skin folds or rubs against itself
    • Cheeks
    • Forehead
    • Scalp

    Older children and adults who have eczema may have itchy, scaly lesions with areas of thickened skin. These lesions are usually on the:

    • Elbows
    • Face
    • Knees
    • Neck
    • Skin folds
    • Upper chest
    • Wrists

    Eczema can cause skin discoloration. People with darker skin may be more likely to notice this discoloration effect. Our doctors at the Henry Ford Multicultural Dermatology Clinic provide specialized care for people with darker skin who develop eczema.

  • What are my treatment options for eczema?

    Our dermatologists offer a range of treatment options for people with eczema. Some of these therapies focus on reducing the itching or discomfort of lesions. Others work to maintain the skin’s normal texture and reduce eczema flare-ups. Some can reduce the effects of skin discoloration.

    Some of the treatment options for eczema we offer include:

    • Antibiotics to treat infections caused by lesions and/or lower the amount of bacteria on the skin
    • Antihistamines to control or minimize itch
    • Corticosteroids, either in pill form or applied directly to the skin
    • Ointments to modulate the immune system, such as tacrolimus (Protopic) or pimecrolimus (Elidel)
    • Other medications to modulate the immune system, such as cyclosporine, azothioprine, or mycophenolate mofetil
    • Phototherapy treatment

    You can also minimize your risk for eczema flare-ups by using mild soaps or cleansers at home and regularly moisturizing your skin.

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