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?
- Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) Slideshow Pictures
- Take the Eczema Quiz!
- Adult Skin Problems - Slideshow
- Eczema FAQs
- Find a local Dermatologist in your town
Can eczema be prevented?
While there is no cure for eczema, you can take steps to manage your symptoms and lessen the severity of outbreaks. Such measures include
- avoidance of over-bathing;
- applying moisturizer frequently, especially after bathing;
- bathing in warm, not hot, water and using a mild soap;
- limiting or avoiding contact with known irritants like soaps, perfumes, detergents, jewelry, environmental irritants, etc.;
- wearing loose-fitting clothing (cotton clothing may be less irritating for many people than wool or synthetic fibers);
- the use of cool compresses to help control itching;
- avoiding foods that cause allergic reactions;
- exercise, meditation, or other stress-management techniques can help those for whom stress is a trigger;
- wearing protective gloves for activities that require frequent submersion of the hands in water;
- avoiding activities that make you hot and sweaty as well as abrupt changes in temperature and humidity;
- using a humidifier in both winter (when the heating dries the atmosphere) and in the summer (if air conditioning is used because it depletes the moisture in the air);
- maintaining cool temperatures in sleeping areas, because heat can lead to sweating that worsens itching and irritation;
- practicing good skin hygiene even when you are not having symptoms.
What are the possible complications of eczema?
Mortality (death) from eczema is rare, but the morbidity (discomfort and disability) with eczema is significant in both adults and children and leads to work and school absences. Itching also increases the financial and psychological burden within a family.
As with any condition characterized by itchy skin, scratching can lead to skin wounds and secondary bacterial infections with Streptococcus or Staphylococcus bacteria. These bacterial infections may require antibiotic treatment.
Kaposi varicelliform eruption (eczema herpeticum) is a known complication of atopic dermatitis that develops in association with a primary herpes simplex virus infection. This condition is characterized by blisters that generally begin in areas of eczema and spread rapidly to other eczematous areas and normal skin. Treatment with the antiviral drug acyclovir (Zovirax) may bring relief.
As mentioned earlier, people who develop atopic dermatitis often progress to develop other forms of allergic disease. Up to 30% of people with atopic dermatitis will develop asthma, and about 35% develop allergic rhinitis (nasal allergies).
Viewers share their comments
Find out what women really need.