Eczema or atopic dermatitis is caused by an impaired skin barrier due to genetics.  This impaired skin barrier can be made worse by environmental factors like cold, dry weather and by personal hygiene habits like frequent hand washing or sweating. 

How do I treat my eczema?

Treatments are aimed at repairing the skin barrier, but applying good moisturizers and emollients (CeraVe cream, Vaseline, Aquaphor, Cetaphil cream) after bathing.   Dr. Campbell recommends using lukewarm water for baths and showers and using gentle, fragrance free, creamy cleansers, such as Dove, CeraVe hydrating, or Cetaphil Gentle. 

When is the best time to apply my moisturizer? 

When you get out of the shower or bath, pat dry and while still moist, apply a layer of moisturizer or emollient.  

What is my eczema is flared?  

When eczema becomes inflamed, prescription strength anti-inflammatories are oftentimes necessary, including topical steroids (i.e. triamcinolone, hydrocortisone, clobetasol)  and topical calcineurin inhibitors (tacrolimus and pimecrolimus).  Inappropriate use of topical steroids can cause stretch marks, thinning of skin and small blood vessel growth (telangiectasias) so it is important to review their use with Dr. Campbell. 

Should I get allergy tested since I have eczema? 

Dr. Campbell does not typically send patients for allergy testing unless they have failed to respond appropriately to topical corticosteroids and oral antihistamines.  Allergy testing may provide some benefit in patients whose skin flares with exposure to a particular food.

Is eczema an infection? 

Eczema is caused by an impaired skin barrier due to genetics, but due to this impaired barrier eczema patients are at a higher risk of developing skin infections.  Staph aureus infections of the skin can worsen eczema, contribute to itch and lead to flares.

How do I prevent my eczema from becoming infected?  

Bleach baths are a great way to reduce the amount of staph aureus bacteria on the skin.  Dr. Campbell recommends the use of bleach baths 1-2 times per week for 5-10 minutes in patients with frequent eczema that becomes infected.  Bleach baths require filling your bathtub full with lukewarm water, then adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup of unscented bleach.