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Eczema, a term often used interchangeably with ‘dermatitis,’ refers to a group of conditions that cause inflammation of the skin. These conditions are characterized by itchiness, red skin, and a rash.

In severe cases, the skin may blister, bleed, or form crusts. It’s important for patients seeking eczema relief to understand the nature of their condition, the various types of eczema, and the available treatment options.

What Is Eczema?

Eczema is not just a single health issue but a group of conditions that cause skin irritation and inflammation. Its symptoms can range from mild dryness and redness to severe peeling and cracking of the skin.

Understanding eczema is important for managing it effectively and seeking appropriate treatment from a dermatologist, such as a Hilton Head dermatologist specializing in skin conditions.

Types of Eczema

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema, often starting in childhood. This type of eczema is part of what’s called the “atopic triad,” which includes asthma and hay fever.

Symptoms include dry skin, itching, and red, inflamed patches. Genetic factors, skin barrier defects, and environmental and immune system dysfunction play roles in its development.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis occurs when the skin comes into contact with a substance that triggers an allergic reaction or irritates the skin. Common irritants include nickel, dyes, fragrances, and more. Symptoms include redness, itching, and sometimes blisters.

Dyshidrotic Eczema

Dyshidrotic eczema is characterized by small blisters on the hands and feet, especially on the fingers, palms, and soles. These blisters can be itchy and painful.

Dyshidrotic eczema is more common in women and may be associated with stress and seasonal allergies.

Hand Eczema

Hand eczema presents as red, itchy, dry, scaly patches on the hands and is often caused by both genetic and environmental factors, including frequent hand washing and exposure to chemicals.


Similar to other types of eczema, neurodermatitis leads to thick, scaly patches on the skin. It’s usually found on the neck, scalp, shoulders, feet, or ankles and tends to flare periodically. Itchiness is a significant symptom, and scratching can make the itching feel more intense.

Nummular Eczema

Nummular eczema appears as round, coin-shaped spots on the skin that can be itchy and scaly. These spots often occur in the winter and can be triggered by skin injuries such as burns, abrasions, or insect bites.

Stasis Dermatitis

Stasis dermatitis occurs when fluid leaks out of weakened veins into your skin, primarily affecting the lower legs. This condition is associated with swelling, itching, and pain.

Eczema Relief

Treatment for eczema aims to heal the affected skin and prevent flares of symptoms. It includes skincare, lifestyle changes, and sometimes medication. Here are common approaches to eczema treatment:

  • Moisturizing: Using ointments, creams, and lotions to keep the skin moist. Apply several times a day and after bathing.
  • Topical medications: Applying corticosteroid creams and ointments to reduce inflammation and relieve itching.
  • Systemic medications: For severe cases, drugs like corticosteroids, PDE4 inhibitors, or immunosuppressants may be prescribed.
  • Therapies: Light therapy, or phototherapy, involves exposure to certain types of light.
Manifestation of atopic dermatitis as a red itchy spot on a woman’s neck, close up, rear view, copy space. Dermatology, allergy, itching, red spot or rash on skin

Eczema Causes

The exact causes of eczema remain unclear, but it is understood to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Genetically, individuals with eczema often have a family history of the condition or other atopic disorders such as asthma or hay fever.

Environmentally, eczema can be triggered by various irritants and allergens ranging from soaps and detergents to dust and pollen.

Eczema Triggers

Identifying and avoiding triggers is a critical part of managing eczema. Common triggers include harsh soaps, detergents, stress, sweat, and allergens like pet dander, dust mites, or molds.

Weather changes, particularly dry and cold weather, can also exacerbate the condition, causing severe discomfort.

Eczema Symptoms

The symptoms of eczema can be different among patients but commonly include intense itching, red or brownish-gray patches, small raised bumps that may leak fluid when scratched, thickened, cracked, or scaly skin, and raw, sensitive skin from scratching.

These symptoms can appear anywhere but are mostly found on the hands, feet, arms, behind the knees, and on the face.

Eczema Treatments Options

Steroid Creams

Topical corticosteroids are one of the most common treatments for eczema. These creams and ointments help to reduce inflammation and relieve itching.

They come in various strengths and should be used as directed by a dermatologist to avoid potential side effects, such as skin thinning.


Emollients or moisturizers are important in managing dry skin associated with eczema. They help keep the skin moist and form a protective barrier over the skin, preventing dryness and cracking.

It is recommended to apply emollients daily, especially after bathing while the skin is still damp.

Light Therapy

Phototherapy or light therapy involves exposing the skin to certain types of ultraviolet light. It is generally considered when topical treatments are ineffective.

Multiple sessions are typically required, and the treatment must be carefully supervised by a healthcare provider to minimize the risk of long-term skin damage.

Dietary Changes

Some individuals may find that certain foods exacerbate their eczema. Foods commonly reported to trigger eczema include dairy products, eggs, nuts and seeds, soy products, and wheat.

An elimination diet, supervised by a healthcare provider, can help to identify potential food triggers.

Why Choose Hilton Head Dermatology?

Hilton Head Dermatology offers personalized dermatological care to focus on unique patient needs. Our skilled dermatologists are experts in managing skin conditions like eczema and work with each patient to develop a treatment plan that works and maintains patient preferences.

Contact Us to Learn More

For more information on eczema treatments, contact us and schedule a consultation with a Hilton Head dermatologist. Our team is dedicated to providing effective eczema relief and improving your skin health.

Eczema Treatment

Eczema Treatment