UPDATED ON: 31 Aug 2023, 22:35 PM
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What is Eczema?

Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that can lead to itchiness and scaly rashes. If left untreated, it can aggravate and lead to complications.

All you need to know about eczema. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is an inflammatory skin condition identified by severe itching, redness and scaly rashes. It is a type of skin condition that can affect people of all ages, but it is more common in children. People with eczema have dry and sensitive skin that becomes itchy and irritated, which can lead to scratching and further aggravation. It can be painful and lead to discoloration and blisters. Eczema typically appears in the form of patches or rashes on the face, hands, elbows, knees or other parts of the body. It typically comes and goes over time. While the exact cause of the condition is unknown, it is believed to occur due to genetic and environmental factors. It can be treated by managing its symptoms through applying tropical moisturisers and some lifestyle changes.

Causes of Eczema

While the exact causes of eczema are not fully known, it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some of the most common factors that may contribute to the development of the skin condition include:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • An overactive immune system
  • Skin barrier dysfunction
  • Environmental triggers such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, certain
  • Foods, irritants, etc.
  • Food or contact allergies

It is crucial to note that the triggers of eczema can vary from one person to another. What may cause a flare-up in one person may not affect another. The best to understand and manage the condition is through recognising individual triggers with the help of your dermatologist.

Key Facts About Eczema

Major Symptoms
  • Itchy skin
  • Redness and inflammation
  • Dry skin
  • Rough patches on the skin
  • Discoloured skin
  • Lichenification or leathery skin
Necessary Health Tests
  • Blood tests
  • Allergy skin testing
  • Skin biopsy
  • Patch testing
  • Buccal swabs
  • Apply mositurisers
  • Invest in antihistamines
  • Use topical corticosteroids
  • Wet dressings or bandages may help
  • Make lifestyle changes

Symptoms of Eczema

Eczema can present with various symptoms, which may vary in severity and duration. So, your eczema may not look the same as someone else’s symptoms. Different types of eczema may trigger different symptoms. It is best to check with a dermatologist to know for sure. However, there are some common signs of eczema, as per several renowned medical authorities.

  • Itchy skin
  • Dry and rough patches on the skin
  • Redness and inflammation
  • Skin patches
  • Discoloured skin due to prolonged symptoms
  • Thickened skin, leathery skin, known as lichenification.

It is essential to note that eczema symptoms can come and go, with certain periods of flare-ups and remission. They may also appear differently in one person as compared to another, depending on the degree of severity. If you suspect you have eczema or are experiencing persistent skin issues, it’s recommended to consult a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Also read: Skin rash or eczema: How to find out?

Diagnosis of Eczema

There is no specific test to identify eczema, but a physical examination helps spot the condition. The dermatologist would examine you for signs of eczema, such as redness, inflammation, dryness, scaling and rash. The dermatologist may also check your medical history to find if there’s any link. In cases where the dermatologist notices symptoms of eczema, a patch test may be recommended. It may involve applying small amounts of common allergens to your skin using adhesive patches to identify specific triggers.

Treatment of Eczema

The treatment of eczema lies in managing the symptoms. While the specific treatment can vary depending on the severity of symptoms and individual factors, here are some common treatment options for eczema you should look out for:

1. Moisturisers

Since eczema makes your skin dry and itchy, you may be recommended to apply moisturizer regularly and frequently. It would help you hydrate the skin and prevent dryness, reducing the risk of flare-ups.

2. Topical corticosteroids

Topical corticosteroids are a type of steroid medicine applied directly to the affected area to alleviate inflammation and irritation that occurs during eczema flare-ups.

3. Antihistamines

Your dermatologist may advise you to use oral antihistamines to help you deal with itching and other symptoms of the condition.

5. Wet dressings or bandages

In severe cases of eczema which cause acute flare-ups, your dermatologist may recommend using wet dressings or bandages applied to the affected areas. It can help soothe the skin, reduce inflammation, and prevent scarring.

6. Avoid the triggers

Identifying and avoiding triggers such as certain foods, allergens, irritants or stressful situations is crucial in managing the condition.

7. Make lifestyle changes

Lifestyle factors also play a pivotal role in managing eczema. So, take lukewarm baths or showers, maintain good skin care practices, use gentle fragrance-free products, wear breathable fabrics, and manage stress levels.

It is essential to consult a dermatologist, preferably a dermatologist, who can evaluate your specific condition and create a personalised treatment plan.

Eczema Related FAQs

Is eczema contagious?

No, eczema is not a contagious disease. So, if you are afraid about being close to someone with eczema, your fears are unfounded.

Are fast foods bad for eczema?

Fast foods are high in trans-fat which causes inflammation and may even worsen the symptoms of eczema. So, it is advised to avoid eating fast food if you have a problem.

Does milk worsen eczema symptoms?

Yes, milk or other dairy products can trigger eczema symptoms. Consult your dermatologist to know what you should eat and avoid to keep these symptoms at bay.

Can eczema be cured?

Eczema is a chronic condition, meaning there is no known cure. However, with appropriate management and treatment, most people with eczema can control their symptoms and prevent flare-ups.

Does diet affect eczema?

Certain foods may trigger or worsen eczema symptoms in some individuals. Common triggers include dairy products, eggs, nuts, wheat and soy. It is recommended to keep a food diary and work with a dermatologist to identify and manage any potential dietary triggers.

Can stress make eczema worse?

Yes, stress can be a trigger for eczema flare-ups or worsen existing symptoms. Stress management techniques such as relaxation exercises, meditation, and counselings may be beneficial for individuals with eczema.

Is there a specific skincare routine for eczema?

A gentle skincare routine is important for individuals with eczema. It typically involves using mild, fragrance-free cleansers and moisturisers, avoiding hot water and patting the skin dry instead of rubbing. Moisturising the skin regularly is essential to maintain hydration and prevent dryness.

Can eczema be treated with natural remedies?

Some natural remedies may provide relief for eczema symptoms. You could try applying aloe vera gel, using coconut oil, or taking oatmeal baths. However, it's important to consult a dermatologist before trying any natural remedies to ensure they are safe and effective for your specific condition.

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