Proudly Serving Central Iowa from our Ankeny and Ames Locations!

Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

What is Eczema?

Eczema is a common skin condition that impacts millions of people. The term “eczema” incorporates several skin conditions that can cause itchy, red and scaly skin.  Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema.

Symptoms of eczema may include intense itching, redness, small bumps, or dry flaky skin. Most people with atopic dermatitis develop symptoms before age five, but it will often behave differently in people of different ages. For example, in babies it may involve the top of the arms, legs, cheeks and scalp. In older children and adults, it tends to occur on the sides of the neck, the elbow creases and behind the knees. A different form of eczema, called dyshidrotic, involves the hands and feet.

What Causes Eczema?

The exact cause of eczema is unknown but doctors understand many of the contributing factors that may lead to this disorder.  Excess immune system activity plays a significant role in creating skin inflammation.  Skin barrier disruption may also lead to the development of eczema.  Atopic dermatitis is genetic, meaning it can run in families. People who have it often also have allergies and even asthma.  The good news is that about fifty percent of children with atopic dermatitis will outgrow it by adulthood.

Your dermatologist should be able to tell if you have eczema by doing a thorough skin exam and asking several questions. In some cases, your doctor may take a small sample of skin, called a biopsy, to confirm the diagnosis.

How do You Treat Eczema?

There are many therapies that can relieve the symptoms of eczema, unfortunately, the condition cannot be cured.  Most people need to try different treatments or combinations of treatments to find what works best for them.  The board-certified dermatologists at Iowa Dermatology Consultants will work with you to understand your symptoms and develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs.

One of the best ways to reduce symptoms is to use mild cleansers and thick moisturizing creams and ointments to keep the skin from getting too dry. It can also help to avoid things that are known to make eczema worse, such as very dry air, stress, harsh soaps and cleaning products, perfumes, wool and synthetic fabrics.  For some people, eczema may be worsened by tobacco smoke, dust mites and animal dander.

Prescription creams and ointments are often very effective treatments. They are applied topically to the skin, and when used as directed, have a very low risk of side effects. There are also “systemic” therapies that can be used when the topical options aren’t effective.  These include use of pills or injections.

While many people have obtained control of their severe eczema using these types of medicines, there are potential side effects that you will want to discuss with a board-certified dermatologist.

Additional Eczema Resources

Links to Additional Information:

American Academy of Dermatology Eczema Videos:

Why Iowa Dermatology Consultants?

Iowa Dermatology Consultants believes in a patient focused approach to care.  We work with patients forming an active partnership in treatment to help repair the physical and emotional damage of skin disease.  Our Ankeny and Ames locations allow us to conveniently treat patients across the Des Moines metro area and all of Central Iowa including Ames, Carroll, Fort Dodge, Iowa Falls, Marshalltown, Huxley, Slater, and Indianola.  

At Iowa Dermatology Consultants, all of our physicians are board-certified dermatologists. Your care provided by Dr. Snider, Dr. Smith, or Dr. Myers is founded in knowledge and experience which exceeds that of a general practitioner.  Together they have almost 50 years of combined experience in diagnosing and treating a vast array of skin conditions.  This includes over 16,000 hours of patient care training to ensure that a board-certified dermatologist can expertly diagnosis and treat over 3000 dermatologic conditions.

Whether you’re coming to us for help with skin cancer or diseases like acne, psoriasis, and eczema; or to reverse the signs of aging with Botox, chemical peels or other cosmetic procedures, at Iowa Dermatology Consultants you will be getting the best dermatologic care in Central Iowa.