Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition that causes itching, redness, and a rash. It’s a type of inflammation of the skin that is characterized by dry, scaly patches that can be red and itchy. Eczema can affect people of all ages, but is most commonly diagnosed in childhood.
What are the causes of Eczema?
The exact cause of eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is unknown. However, it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Eczema is a type of skin inflammation that occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to irritants and allergens. People with eczema have a genetic predisposition to the condition, and it tends to run in families.
Factors that can trigger eczema symptoms include:
- Dry skin: Dry, irritable skin is a common trigger for eczema.
- Irritants: Certain substances, such as soap, detergents, and harsh chemicals, can irritate the skin and trigger eczema symptoms.
- Allergens: Certain allergens, such as dust mites, animal dander, and pollen, can trigger eczema symptoms.
- Stress: Stress can weaken the immune system and trigger eczema symptoms.
- Weather: Cold, dry weather can trigger eczema symptoms, while hot, humid weather can make them worse.
- Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes, such as during pregnancy or menopause, can trigger eczema symptoms.
- Infections: Skin infections, such as staph infections, can trigger eczema symptoms.
Signs And Symptoms
Eczema first appears in the first year of birth, then around the teenage and then during adolescence.
Mostly it starts from the face then progresses to arms and then to feet. In some children it is also seen over elbows, knees and neck. In adults hands and feet are more affected.
The signs and symptoms of eczema can vary from person to person, but common symptoms include:
- Itching: This is the most common and persistent symptom of eczema. The itching can be intense and can disrupt sleep.
- Dry skin: People with eczema often have dry, scaly skin that may be rough and sensitive to the touch.
- Rash: The skin may be red, inflamed, and covered with a rash. The rash may be bumpy, blister-like, or ooze fluid.
- Dark patches of skin: Eczema can cause discoloration of the skin, especially in dark-skinned people.
- Thickened skin: In severe cases of eczema, the skin may thicken and become leathery, especially on the hands and feet.
- Swelling: The skin may become swollen, especially after scratching.
- Crusting: The skin may form crusts or scabs from excessive scratching or secondary infections.
How To Keep Eczema In Check?
If you have eczema, it’s important to take steps to keep it under control and manage your symptoms. Here are some tips that may help:
- Moisturize regularly: Using a fragrance-free moisturizer can help soothe dry, itchy skin and prevent flare-ups.
- Avoid triggers: Identify and avoid factors that trigger your eczema, such as certain soaps, detergents, fragrances, and fabrics.
- Take short, lukewarm showers: Avoid hot showers, which can dry out your skin. Use a gentle, fragrance-free soap and moisturize immediately after showering.
- Reduce stress: Stress can trigger eczema outbreaks, so finding ways to manage stress can help keep your symptoms in check.
- Avoid scratching: Scratching can make your symptoms worse and lead to skin infections. Try using a cold compress to relieve itching, or consider using a topical anti-itch cream.
- Use mild and fragrance-free products: Choose products, such as laundry detergents, that are labeled “gentle” or “for sensitive skin.” Avoid using products with fragrances or dyes.
- Use a humidifier: Dry indoor air can worsen eczema symptoms, so using a humidifier in your home can help keep your skin hydrated.
- Consult with your doctor: Your doctor can recommend a treatment plan, including over-the-counter creams, prescription creams, and oral medications.
Remember, everyone’s skin is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. If you’re having trouble managing your eczema, talk to your doctor for personalized advice and treatment options.