Eczema is a common skin condition otherwise known as atopic dermatitis. Eczema is more common in infants and children, but can affect people of all ages. Eczema can be a life-long or chronic skin condition. There is no “cure” for eczema; however there have been great improvements in treating eczema with different therapy methods. A therapy method will be customized to your individual case. Symptoms vary from person to person but often include dry, red, itchy patches on the skin. Sometimes the itching can be intense especially in drier, colder climates. Scratching these itchy patches can lead to redness, swelling, and cracking of the skin, in more severe cases, the skin may weep a clear fluid causing crusting of the skin. Continuous scratching can become bothersome and frustrating. It also may lead to other skin problems and possibly infection.
Studies show that eczema is due to the inheritance of certain genes that lack filaggrin (a protein that builds a protection barrier on the top layer of skin). There are many factors that may trigger an eczema flare or increase the intensity and areas impacted. The most frequent triggers include: environmental factors, irritants, allergens, microbes, food allergy, stress, and hormones. Certain types of eczema may be inherited. Eczema is also often associated in patients who suffer from allergic disease, such as hay fever or asthma, and it may trigger the skin condition.
Areas where the skin may fold or crease are the most frequent sites for the rash to erupt, including the backs of the knees, the insides of the elbows, and on the hands, neck or face. The rash may be relegated to the scalp, or In extreme cases cover the majority of the body. One or more of the following symptoms are typical:
- Dry, sensitive skin
- Intense itching
- Red, inflamed skin
- Recurring rash
- Scaly areas
- Rough, leathery patches
- Oozing or crusting
- Areas of swelling
- Dark colored patches of skin
There are several types of eczema, each with differing symptoms and affecting different parts of the body. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, eczema can be difficult to manage and become frustrating enough to impede on one’s quality of life. There are multiple treatments available in managing eczema. Treatments available today range from the use of topical steroid application to the use of immune-modifying medications; treatments may be used in combination with making lifestyle changes as well.
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