Eczema

Eczema is a general term for many types of skin inflammation, also known as dermatitis. The most common form of eczema is atopic dermatitis (some people use these two terms interchangeably). However, there are many different forms of eczema.

Eczema can affect people of any age, although the condition is most common in infants. Eczema will permanently resolve by age 3 in about half of affected infants. In others, the condition tends to recur throughout life. People with eczema often have a family history of the condition or a family history of other allergic conditions, such as asthma or hay fever. Up to 20% of children and 1%-2% of adults are believed to have eczema.

Doctors do not know the exact cause of eczema, but an abnormal function of the immune system is believed to be a factor. Some forms of eczema can be triggered by substances that come in contact with the skin, such as soaps, cosmetics, clothing, detergents, jewelry, or sweat. Environmental allergens (substances that cause allergic reactions) may also cause outbreaks of eczema. Changes in temperature or humidity, or even psychological stress for some people lead to outbreaks of eczema.

Eczema most commonly causes dry, reddened skin that itches or burns, although the appearance of eczema varies from person to person and varies according to the specific type of eczema. Intense itching is generally the first symptom in most people with eczema. Sometimes, eczema may lead to blisters and oozing lesions, but eczema can also result in dry and scaly skin. Repeated scratching may lead to thickened, crusty skin. While any region of the body may be affected by eczema, in children and adults, eczema typically occurs on the face, neck, and the insides of the elbows, knees, and ankles. In infants, eczema typically occurs on the forehead, cheeks, forearms, legs, scalp, and neck. Eczema can sometimes occur as a brief reaction that only leads to symptoms for a few hours or days, but in other cases, the symptoms persist over a longer time and are referred to as chronic dermatitis.The goals for the treatment of eczema are to prevent itching, inflammation, and worsening of the condition. Treatment of eczema may involve both lifestyle changes and the use of medications. Treatment is always based upon an individual’s age, overall health status, and the type and severity of the condition.Keeping the skin well hydrated through the application of creams or ointments (with a low water and high oil content) as well as avoiding over-bathing is an important step in treatment. Lifestyle modifications to avoid triggers for the condition are also recommended.

Corticosteroid creams are sometimes prescribed to decrease the inflammatory reaction in the skin. These may be mild-, medium-, or high-potency corticosteroid creams depending upon the severity of the symptoms. If itching is severe, oral antihistamines may be prescribed. To control itching, the sedative type (antihistamine drugs ) appear to be most effective.

In some cases, a short course of oral corticosteroids  is prescribed to control an acute outbreak of eczema, although their long-term use is discouraged in the treatment of this non life-threatening condition because of unpleasant and potentially harmful side affects. Ultraviolet light therapy (phototherapy) is another treatment option for some people with eczema.

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2 Comments

  1. Khushi

    Thank you for this post. It is very useful.

  2. Ano

    Thank you for the useful post. My daughter has it and I want to help her. It is very uncomfortabel to wear nice dresses.

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