This week it's National Eczema Week and we're talking about the signs, symptoms and treatments for the condition.
What is Eczema?
Eczema is a skin condition which causes the skin to become red, itchy, dry and cracked. The most common type of eczema is called atopic eczema, which is more common in children but can also affect adults for the first time too. Usually a long-term condition, eczema has been known to improve or even clear up in adulthood.
Types of Eczema
- discoid eczema – a type of eczema that occurs in circular or oval patches on the skin
- contact dermatitis – a type of eczema that occurs when the body comes into contact with a particular substance
- varicose eczema – a type of eczema that most often affects the lower legs and is caused by problems with the flow of blood through the leg veins
- seborrhoeic eczema – a type of eczema where red, scaly patches develop on the sides of the nose, eyebrows, ears and scalp
- dyshidrotic eczema (pompholyx) – a type of eczema that causes tiny blisters to erupt across the palms of the hands
Atopic eczema causes skin to become sore, itchy, dry and cracked; for some people it will only be small patches, but other individuals may experience inflamed skin all over the body. Eczema commonly affects hands, insides of elbows, backs of knees and the face and scalp. It can also flare up during periods when the symptoms can become more severe, usually in colder weather.
Although with no clear cause, atopic eczema is thought to be related to individuals who are susceptible to allergies and often develops alongside other conditions like asthma and hay fever. Eczema can be triggered by certain soaps and detergents which cause irritation, as well as stress and the weather. Food allergies can sometimes contribute to eczema, especially for young children. For this reason, you may be asked to keep a food diary to determine whether a certain food is triggering your symptoms.
Although eczema doesn't have a cure, there are ways to help make life with the condition more manageable. These could include:
- self-care techniques, such as reducing scratching and avoiding triggers
- emollients (moisturising treatments) – used on a daily basis for dry skin
- topical corticosteroids – used to reduce swelling, redness and itching during flare-ups
For more information on eczema, you can visit the National Eczema Society to find out how you can help.