What causes eczema and what are the best treatments for it?

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a common skin condition that causes red, itchy, and inflamed skin. The exact cause of eczema is not known, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Some common triggers of eczema include:

  1. Allergens: Exposure to certain allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, or pet dander, can trigger eczema symptoms.
  2. Irritants: Exposure to certain irritants, such as soaps, detergents, or harsh chemicals, can cause eczema flare-ups.
  3. Stress: Stress can weaken the immune system and trigger eczema symptoms.
  4. Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during puberty, pregnancy, or menopause, can trigger eczema symptoms.
  5. Climate: Exposure to extreme temperatures, humidity, or dry air can trigger eczema symptoms.

The best treatments for eczema depend on the severity of the condition. Some common treatments include:

  1. Moisturizers: Keeping the skin hydrated and moisturized is an essential part of managing eczema. Using a fragrance-free, gentle moisturizer can help to prevent dryness and itching.
  2. Topical steroids: Prescription-strength creams and ointments containing corticosteroids can help to reduce inflammation and itching.
  3. Topical calcineurin inhibitors: These medications, such as tacrolimus and pimecrolimus, work by suppressing the immune system and reducing inflammation.
  4. Oral medications: For severe cases of eczema, a dermatologist may prescribe oral medications, such as prednisone, cyclosporine, or azathioprine.
  5. Phototherapy: Exposure to UV light can help to reduce inflammation and itching in some people with eczema.

In addition to these treatments, avoiding triggers and practicing good skin hygiene can help to manage and prevent eczema flare-ups. It is important to work closely with a healthcare professional to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your specific needs and symptoms.