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Pediatric Immunology / Allergy: UCLA Skin Allergy / Eczema Clinic Treats Children with Severe Symptoms

12/01/2007

Living with eczema can be uncomfortable for children, both physically and emotionally. The UCLA Skin Allergy/ Eczema clinic evaluates and treats pediatric patients with severe eczema and other skin allergies.

Eczema is a non-contagious skin condition that children typically outgrow by adolescence, though some people suffer from the condition throughout their lives. According to the National Eczema Association, eczema affects 10 percent of infants and children in the United States.

Eczema – also known as atopic dermatitis – is the result of inflammation of skin cells and often looks like a rash. Symptoms of eczema usually include dry skin, which becomes scaly and may turn into yellow crusts or bumps if infected. Eczema is very itchy and much of the skin damage suffered by eczema patients is due to uncontrolled scratching.

The exact cause of eczema is unknown, but inflammation is the result of cells in the skin that over-react to such common triggers as:

  • dry skin
  • irritants
  • stress
  • heat and sweating
  • infections
  • allergens

Children with eczema can be treated by their pediatrician or a dermatologist. Conservative therapies may include the application of moisturizers and topical creams to help relieve symptoms.

UCLA’s team approach

Severe cases of eczema are marked by a widespread rash over the body and extreme itching. As a result, children may have trouble sleeping and concentrating. The unsightly rash often results in psychological issues for a child.

The UCLA Skin Allergy/Eczema Clinic uses a methodical, multidisciplinary approach to diagnose the underlying factors leading to severe eczema and treat the symptoms with the most appropriate medications.

New patients initially meet with a pediatric immunologist and allergist who take a complete medical history and run a series of diagnostic tests, including environmental and food allergy tests. Depending on the findings, the child may be referred to an allergy specialist or dietician to help reduce or eliminate the offending irritants or allergens.

After these initial efforts, the medical director may choose to prescribe more aggressive therapies to control severe symptoms. This may include high potency topical steroids or antibiotics to eliminate bacteria in the skin. Children who have contracted infections may require intravenous gamma globulin to raise antibody levels. After this course of treatment, the child is reevaluated by his or her team – which may include allergists, immunologists and dieticians – and will be presented with a long-term treatment plan. The team will continue to monitor the child’s progress at clinic visits and adjust the course of treatment when necessary.

Emotional health

The UCLA Skin Allergy/Eczema Clinic – in association with the National Eczema Association – is starting a support group in the Los Angeles area. This group, which will be overseen by the medical director of the clinic, will offer children the forum to discuss the day-to-day challenges of living with eczema.

Who is a candidate?

Children with eczema or other skin allergies for whom prior treatments have failed are welcome to the UCLA Skin Allergy/Eczema clinic to pursue a more aggressive form of treatment.

Team members

Robert L. Roberts, M.D.
Director, UCLA Skin Allergy/Eczema Clinic

Maria Garcia-Lloret, M.D.
Director, UCLA Food Allergy Clinic

Contact information

For further information, parents should contact the clinic:

UCLA Skin Allergy/Eczema Clinic
200 UCLA Medical Plaza, Suite 265
Los Angeles, CA 90095

(310) 825-0867

Parents and referring physicians are encouraged to contact the medical director prior to an appointment for further information:
Rroberts@mednet.ucla.edu
(310) 825-6481





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