Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that presents as a dry, itchy skin. Since it is very itchy, persistent scratching may lead to thickening of the skin accompanied by excoriations. Excoriations are cuts and abrasions caused by frequent scratching of the same area of skin. This often leads to crusting of the damaged area. Commonly affected areas are the hands and lower legs. In a specific kind of eczema called atopic dermatitis, wrists, inner elbows, and back of the knees are frequently involved. Individuals who frequently contact objects or irritants with a particular body part may also experience eczema there. For example, someone exposing their hands to dishwater all day may experience eczema on both hands.
Eczema can be treated in several different ways. Topical corticosteroids are the mainstay of treatment often prescribed to reduce both inflammation and itching, and to aid in the restoration of normal skin. However, topical steroids should not be used for extended periods of time once the skin returns to normal. Sometimes, long-term non-steroidal topical ointments are to be used in combination with topical steroids. In addition, a skin care regimen will be discussed with patients on an individual basis. Keeping the area moisturized and avoiding harsh soaps and detergents is always recommended.