Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Eczema facts
- What is eczema?
- What are the causes of eczema?
- What are risk factors for eczema?
- What are eczema symptoms and signs in babies, children, and adults?
- What are the different types of eczema?
- How is eczema diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for eczema?
- Can eczema be prevented?
- What are the possible complications of eczema?
- What is the prognosis (outlook) for eczema?
What are the causes of eczema?
Doctors do not know the exact cause of eczema, but a defect of the skin that impairs its function as a barrier, possibly combined with an abnormal function of the immune system, are believed to be important factors. Studies have shown that in people with atopic dermatitis there are gene defects that lead to abnormalities in certain proteins (such as filaggrin) that are important in maintaining the barrier function of normal skin.
Some forms of eczema can be triggered by substances that come in contact with the skin, such as soaps, cosmetics, clothing, detergents, or jewelry. Environmental allergens (substances that cause allergic reactions) may also cause outbreaks of eczema. Changes in temperature or humidity, or even psychological stress, can lead to outbreaks of eczema in some people.
What are risk factors for eczema?
No clear risk factors have been identified, although those with a family history of allergic disease are likely to be at greater risk.
What are eczema symptoms and signs in babies, children, and adults?
Eczema most commonly causes scaly, reddened skin that itches or burns, although the appearance of eczema varies from person to person and varies according to the specific type of eczema. Intense itching (pruritus) is generally the first symptom in most people with eczema. Sometimes, eczema may lead to blisters and oozing lesions, especially if skin becomes infected, but eczema can also result in dry skin (xerosis is the medical term for dry skin). Repeated scratching may lead to thickened skin (lichenification).
While any region of the body may be affected by eczema, in children and adults, eczema typically occurs on the face, neck, and the insides of the elbows, knees, and ankles. In infants, eczema typically occurs on the forehead, cheeks, forearms, legs, scalp, and neck.
Eczema can sometimes occur as a brief reaction that only leads to symptoms for a few hours or days, but in other cases, the symptoms persist over a longer time and are referred to as chronic dermatitis.
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