By Gary M. White, MD
Asteatotic eczema is the development of inflamed, itchy areas from overly dry skin.
Diffuse red, scaly eczematous areas start locally and can spread to cover much of the body in several weeks time. The lower legs are common initial areas of involvement. Winter time (cold weather), older age, history of atopy and lack of moisturizing are all risk factors. Questions should center around any personal or family history of allergy, hay fever, asthma; frequent bathing or time in the swimming pool; and what if any emoliation is being used.
A dry skin handout is available. See also atopic dermatitis and xerosis. Briefly, daily shower with immediate covering of all involved areas with a potent topical steroid ointment for 7 days usually is quite effective in clearing the rash. This should be followed by tapering the steroid and substituting an emolliating cream to prevent recurrences. Sometimes using the topical steroid 2/week as maintenance is helpful for a time. No lotions here as they have too much water--not enough grease. Oral or intramuscular steroids are sometimes needed to gain initial control.
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