M.D. Claiborne & Associates, L.L.C. - Dermatology Specialists
The terms eczema (atopic dermatitis) and dermatitis describe a reaction pattern of skin disorders with a variety of common characteristics. The acute disease typically is characterized by inflammation, redness, swelling, and itching, as well as some blistering and oozing. Skin biopsies show inflammatory cells and swelling.
When dermatitis becomes subacute, the intense reaction becomes milder, and the blisters begin to heal. Crusts and scale are common at this time.
Chronic dermatitis is identified by thickened, leathery skin with excess ridges, as well as dark and dull skin. Under the microscope, the outermost (epidermal) skin layer is seen to proliferate and become elongated.
The most important thing for patients with a history of eczema is maintaining good gentle skin care habits. This includes the use of gentle soaps, moisturizing creams, and fragrance avoidance. We also typically use topical steroids for brief periods to cut down in itching and inflammation. All of our offices have a phototherapy unity – a non-immunosuppressive option for severe eczema for patients of all ages. Severe eczema can be treated by oral systemic medications, such as methotrexate or cyclosporine. This is a hot topic of research today as many new biologic drugs are being developed to modulate the immune system to prevent this inflammatory disease.