Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)

An itchy skin rash treated with medicines and lifestyle changes

Atopic dermatitis, commonly referred to as eczema, causes an itchy, skin rash. Your skin is dry and irritated because one of the proteins in your skin is not working correctly to create an effective barrier.

If you have eczema, you are more likely to have allergies to things like milk and eggs. You may also have asthma because having eczema puts you at higher risk.

Causes and Triggers of Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

Eczema is an autoimmune disease, meaning your body's immune system attacks healthy cells. It begins most often in childhood. Even infants can show symptoms of it. Genetics as well as irritants or allergens in the environment may cause eczema. Your skin may become irritated by wool and synthetic clothing, fabric softener and other fragrances.

Susceptibility to Infections

When you have eczema, the weakness of your skin barrier makes you more susceptible to serious infections from germs that the body normally fights such as:

  • Staph
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV)
  • Herpes simplex viruses

Overview

Causes and Triggers of Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

Eczema is an autoimmune disease, meaning your body's immune system attacks healthy cells. It begins most often in childhood. Even infants can show symptoms of it. Genetics as well as irritants or allergens in the environment may cause eczema. Your skin may become irritated by wool and synthetic clothing, fabric softener and other fragrances.

Susceptibility to Infections

When you have eczema, the weakness of your skin barrier makes you more susceptible to serious infections from germs that the body normally fights such as:

  • Staph
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV)
  • Herpes simplex viruses

You may find it difficult to treat your eczema on your own. Indiana University Health dermatologists will work closely with you to personalize your treatment to meet your specific needs.

Common treatments for eczema include:

  • Topical medicines
  • Anti-itch medicines
  • Systemic immunosuppressant medicines
  • Skin moisturizers

Treatment also includes changes in diet, and reducing or eliminating use of certain irritating fabrics and substances that touch your skin.
Atopic dermatitis cannot be cured, but children who develop it seem to grow out of it over a long period of time. This is partly because of changes in the body, but it is also likely that the changes you make in diet and fabrics will help.

Our Experts

Our dermatology team consists of residents (new doctors) and fellows (experienced doctors seeking advanced training), which means you’ll receive the most advanced knowledge from two or more doctors. We also collaborate with specialists in other areas, including allergists, to get additional experts’ perspectives.

Treatment

You may find it difficult to treat your eczema on your own. Indiana University Health dermatologists will work closely with you to personalize your treatment to meet your specific needs.

Common treatments for eczema include:

  • Topical medicines
  • Anti-itch medicines
  • Systemic immunosuppressant medicines
  • Skin moisturizers

Treatment also includes changes in diet, and reducing or eliminating use of certain irritating fabrics and substances that touch your skin.
Atopic dermatitis cannot be cured, but children who develop it seem to grow out of it over a long period of time. This is partly because of changes in the body, but it is also likely that the changes you make in diet and fabrics will help.

Our Experts

Our dermatology team consists of residents (new doctors) and fellows (experienced doctors seeking advanced training), which means you’ll receive the most advanced knowledge from two or more doctors. We also collaborate with specialists in other areas, including allergists, to get additional experts’ perspectives.

Our physicians and researchers at IU Health are also faculty at Indiana University School of Medicine. We can conduct basic research and clinical studies that can make the latest treatments and clinical trials available to you before anywhere else.

Research

Our physicians and researchers at IU Health are also faculty at Indiana University School of Medicine. We can conduct basic research and clinical studies that can make the latest treatments and clinical trials available to you before anywhere else.

Patient Stories for Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)

National Eczema Association

This website offers extensive information about eczema (atopic dermatitis) and its treatment, as well as online and local support resources.

Resources

National Eczema Association

This website offers extensive information about eczema (atopic dermatitis) and its treatment, as well as online and local support resources.