Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis (AD), is a persistent skin condition characterized by inflammations that can affect various regions of the body. It causes skin to become itchy, red, scaly, dry and covered in rash.
Although eczema can appear anywhere on the body, adults and children mainly have it on elbows, wrists, ankles, neck or regions behind the knees, while babies usually have it on cheeks and chin although trunk and scalp may also be afflicted. This stubborn condition is incurable but with adequate treatment it can be managed and kept under control. It’s estimated that approximately 3% of adults suffer from this condition, while the rate of eczema in children and infants is much higher – between 10% and 20%.
It is still unclear what the causes are for developing this unpleasant disease. Still, it has been established that eczema usually appears in comorbidity with asthma and rhinitis, leading us to a conclusion that it might be hereditary. Children suffering from eczema are very likely to develop certain allergies, hay fever or even asthma. Even though its causes are unknown, there are numerous triggers that can lead to severe bouts of eczema, and by avoiding them you can significantly reduce the symptoms.
Some of them are:
- Irritants such as disinfectants, soaps, detergents etc.;
- Certain foods, such as dairy products, nuts, eggs, soy products etc.;
- Extreme temperatures – both hot and cold weather or water as well as high humidity aggravate the symptoms;
- Known allergens, such as pets, house dust mites, molds etc.;
- Clothing made from coarse fabrics such as wool and other skin-irritating materials. Choose smooth materials instead;
- Infections caused by itch-scratch cycle.
Again, as it’s the case with many chronic diseases whose origin is unknown, there are certain references that eczema might be the consequence of the immune system being out of balance. Many people are worried that eczema is contagious, but although it looks like something that can be transmitted by contact, it can’t be spread from person to person.
People with atopic dermatitis tend to have dry and sensitive skin and are prone to the intensive itching. One of the first steps in treating eczema is reducing that, sometimes insufferable, itch to tolerable levels and keeping the skin moisturized. Bathing in lukewarm water and with gentle soap is regularly prescribed. Moisturizing your skin regularly, sometimes preferably with petroleum jelly, might be essential.
Topical treatment with corticosteroids is very important because it calms inflammation of the skin very efficiently. As corticosteroids can have side effects, many people are concerned about their use, but if you closely follow the use instructions there’s no need to worry. Topical calcineurin inhibitors (TCIs) are non-corticosteroids and their purpose is also to reduce skin inflammation, and these are especially suitable for treatment of eczema in children as corticosteroid treatment caused concern over its side effects. Tar preparations are also used, but they’re limited only to mild inflammations. The role of antibiotics is to prevent bacterial infections that can occur on the skin surface due to the damage caused by scratching.
The intensity of eczema symptoms is usually reduced as children grow, but some people continue to suffer from it as adults. Timely diagnosis and proper treatment are very important for controlling and alleviating the symptoms of eczema.
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