Eczema – atopic dermatitis – is an itchy skin condition. It often appears with asthma and hayfever, in what’s known as the atopic march or triad, in susceptible people. There is often a genetic component.
We’re not sure exactly why we get eczema, but we do know that the barrier function of the skin is not working properly, resulting in skin irritation. This could be by soap, temperature, foods, or other nonspecific triggers. Everyone’s eczema triggers are a little bit different and often they remain mysterious. Most people grow out of eczema once they hit their teens, but not everyone. We can develop eczema at any time in our lives.
Eczema can look really different from one person to the next – inflamed, red, weepy blistered skin in some, to dry, thickened, itchy skin in others.
Eczema in babies
Usually babies get eczema in a lot of areas at once, and it looks dry, scaly and red, with scratch marks by tiny nails. Cheeks are a typical starting point, as well as nappy rash.
Eczema in toddlers and preschoolers
Eczema tends to become more localised and thick, with kids scratching causing rawness and discomfort. It appears in this age group most often on the inside or outside of the elbows, wrists, ankles and knees, and possibly the genitals.
Eczema in school-age children
The creases of the knees and elbows are most likely to be affected, but eczema in this age group may hit the eyelids, earlobes, neck and scalp. Itchy blisters may appear on the palms, fingers, or feet, with the patches possibly being coin-shaped and dry, red, itchy and looking like ringworm.
Eczema in adults
Adults may have eczema in a variety of forms, but the skin tends to be drier and thicker than in children. Eczema may affect just one area like the hands, eyelids, nipples, or in creases. Repeated staph infections may be a feature.
Treating eczema focuses on reducing triggers, moisturising and protecting skin, and sometimes treatments with topical steroid creams. Treatments for eczema may also include antibiotics, antihistamines, phototherapy or systemic (oral) steroids. Severe eczema that does not respond to less intense treatments may be managed with strong drugs like methotrexate.
Your dermatologist will be able to help figure out which course of action to take when treating eczema, so make an appointment to start your ongoing care.
Treat your eczema more effectively.