Eczema or dermatitis (the terms are interchangeable), is characterised by red, itchy, scaly skin.
It can affect all ages and body sites. From infants to elderly people.
In the UK it affects 15-20% of schoolchildren and 2-10% of adults.
About 80% of cases present before the age of 5. Childhood eczema resolves in around 60% of cases, but the rest of patients will continue to have eczema well into adult life.
It can be localised (eg hands, feet, scalp, face) or very widespread affecting the whole body.
The incidence of eczema in general is increasing, mainly childhood eczema. There are several reasons for this, but the most important is environmental and external factors.
To develop eczema, often people have a genetic predisposition. It tends to run in families. It can be part of a group of conditions called atopic, including eczema, asthma and hay fever.
There are several types of eczema, atopic, seborrhoeic, contact, astheatotic, varicose to name but a few. It is important to get the right diagnosis in order to be able to manage it properly.
It is very important to understand the condition and its triggers. This are mainly changes of temperature, low humidity and dry atmosphere, soaps and detergents and other irritants, pollens, animal fur and dander, house-dust mite, fragrance, stress.
As eczema is extremely itchy, it can frequently get infected. This is normally happens with a bacteria called Staphylococcus Aureus. However, it can also get infected with viruses or fungi. Infection needs to be treated alongside the eczema for this to improve, and it may sometimes be a recurring problem.
The mainstay of treatment is emollients (moisturisers). By improving the water and lipid content of the epidermis, this helps to repair its barrier function. In addition, topical steroids and other anti-inflammatory agents help to control the inflammatory response of the skin. There are many other additional agents that may be necessary.
If you have eczema, book a consultation to get an accurate diagnosis and ongoing treatment plan to help you manage it better. There are many treatments available, and it is important to find the regime that works for you. This will in turn improve your quality of life.
Don’t suffer unnecessarily.
For more information, visit the National Eczema Society website on www.eczema.org