EDUCATION RESOURCE CENTER
GLOSSARY OF TERMS

allergens
Foreign substances that cause allergic reactions. Examples of allergens are plant pollens, dust mites, animal dander, foods, insect venom, antibiotics, and substances such as latex and rubber

antihistamine
Medicine used to counteract histamine, a chemical released by the body in an allergic reaction that contributes inflammation. Some examples include (Benadryl®) and hydroxyzine (Atarax®). Many may cause drowsiness.

asthma
Airway disease characterized by recurrent breathing problems. People with asthma have acute episodes when the air passages in their lungs suddenly narrow, and breathing becomes more difficult. Sometimes, asthma attacks are triggered by allergens, but infection, exercise, cold air and other factors are also important triggers.

atopic dermatitis
Also called eczema, this is a chronic, recurring inflammatory skin disorder that usually first appears in babies or very young children and may last through adulthood. Eczema causes the skin to itch and develop a red, scaly, patchy rash. It often develops in people who have hay fever or asthma or who have family members with these conditions.

atopic triad
Atopic dermatitis (commonly called eczema) forms part of what is known as the atopic triad, which also includes hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and asthma. It is a medical term doctors use to refer to these 3 allergic disorders: asthma, hay fever or allergic rhinitis, and atopic dermatitis.

atrophy (skin)
Thinning of the skin.

borage oil
comes from the seeds of the borage (Borago officinalis) plant.

chronic
Long-lasting and occurring over and over again or characterized by long suffering; referring to a disease or disorder that lasts for a long time.

coal tar
A byproduct obtained from bituminous coal.

cream
A semisolid mixture of oil and water that is mostly oil and is intended for topical use.

eczema
A type of skin condition with redness, itch, bumpiness, and scaling (see atopic dermatitis)

emollient
Something that will make skin softer and more pliant by increasing its hydration. Also called moisturizer.

evening primrose oil
Comes from the seeds of the evening primrose plant.

flare
A term used to describe when eczema worsens (itching and redness).

gamma linoleic acid
An essential fatty acid in the omega-6 family that is found primarily in plant-based oils.

homeopathic remedies
Treatment based on homeopathic principles. Homeopathy views symptoms as the body’s natural reaction in fighting the illness and, unlike conventional medicine, seeks to stimulate rather than suppress them.

immunomodulator
Any substance that influences the immune system; a substance or process capable of modifying functions of the immune system.

inflammation
The body's natural response to injury or abnormal stimulation by a physical, biologic, or chemical agent. Typical signs of inflammation include pain, itchiness, warmth, redness, and loss of function.

lotion
A semisolid mixture of oil and water that is mostly water and is intended for topical use.

moisturizer
Something that will make skin softer and more pliant by increasing its hydration. Also called emollient.

ointment
A clear, greasy semisolid (contains no water) preparation that is intended for topical use.

oral
Taken by mouth (for example, a pill)

oral immunosuppressant
An oral medication that prevents or suppresses a response by the immune system.

over-the-counter
A drug that can be purchased without a prescription.

phototherapy(ultraviolet therapy)
Therapeutic use of ultraviolet light.

placebo
Something that looks like a drug and is used like a drug but that has no active ingredient; often used to test the efficacy and safety of prescription medications in clinical trials.

probiotics
Substances that promote the growth of “good” bacteria in the intestines. Probiotics may reduce allergic reactions by improving digestion or by influencing the immune system, or both.

refractory
Not responsive to usual treatments.

steroid
Glucocorticoid steroids are used as anti-inflammatory treatment for eczema. These steroids can be topical or oral. They are different from the anabolic steroids used by some athletes.

steroid-free
Does not contain a steroid.

striae
Stretch marks.

symptom
Anything that a patient experiences that may indicate a disease.

systemic
Involving the whole body.

T cells
Also known as T lymphocytes, T cells are a type of white blood cells involved in rejecting foreign tissue, regulating immunity, and controlling the production of antibodies to fight infection.

topical
Pertaining to the surface of the skin; a medication applied to the skin..

triggers
Things that cause eczema to flare, such as irritants, microbes, extremes in temperature, humidity, stress, and allergens.


 

Top of Page