SAINT LOUIS PARK, Minn. - Dr. Cynthia Olson, Dermatologist at Park Nicollet, says what we call eczema has a much fancier word among doctors.

“The term that we use is atopic dermatitis,” she says.

Dr. Olson says eczema is a genetic condition. The same genes that also make you more susceptible to things like food allergies and asthma.

She says eczema is essentially when the skin has trouble staying moisturized and then those genes cause your skin to over-react.

“You make less of the normal lipids - the normal fat layers or oil layers that most people make,” Dr. Olson says. “People with atopic dermatitis seem to have less of that, so their skin cracks more easily in various environments.”

She says those environments are things like low-humidity, or when you're washing your hands a lot.

According to Dr. Olson the classic form of eczema starts when you're a baby or a toddler, but there is also a form that can creep its head around the age of 60.

“It's natural to make less oil on the skin as you get older and, in some people, that natural aging change – they just don't tolerate it very well and the eczema will start to come out,” Dr. Olson says.

Most treatments of eczema come in the form of creams that can help moisturize the skin.