WHAT IS ECZEMA ?
Eczema is a common chronic skin condition marked itchy and inflamed patches of skin. It may be accompanied by asthma or hay fever. It is also known as Atopic Dermatitis. It is more common in babies and young children. It occurs on the faces of infants, as well as inside the elbows and behind the knees of children, teenagers, and adults. It is caused by an overactive immune system. Survey reveals that up to 20 percent of children and one to three percent of adults develop Eczema, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). In rare cases,Eczema can first appear during puberty or adulthood. No cure has been found for Eczema. But treatments and self-care measures can relieve itching and prevent new outbreaks. For example, it helps to avoid harsh soaps and other irritants, apply medicated creams or ointments, and moisturize your skin.
WHAT CAUSES ECZEMA ?
An eczema flare-up is when one or more eczema symptoms appear on the skin. The cause of eczema is not fully understood. It is thought to be triggered by an overactive immune system that responds aggressively to the presence of irritants. Eczema is sometimes caused in part by an abnormal response to proteins that are part of the body. Normally, the immune system ignores proteins that are part of the human body and attacks only the proteins of invaders, such as bacteria or viruses. In eczema, the immune system loses the ability to distinguish between the two, which causes inflammation.
Common triggers of eczema flare-ups include:
Chemicals found in cleaners and detergents that dry out the skin
Rough scratchy material like wool
Raised body temperature
A sudden drop in humidity
Other triggers include stress, food allergies, animal dander, and upper respiratory infections.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ECZEMA ?
Eczema is characterized by itchy, dry, rough, flakey, inflamed, and irritated skin. It can flare up, subside, and then flare up again. It can occur anywhere but usually affects the arm, inner elbow, back of the knee, or head (particularly the cheeks and the scalp). It is not contagious and becomes less severe with age.
Red or brownish-gray patches are common symptoms. Small, raised bumps that ooze fluid when scratched are another symptom. Scratching causes them to become crusty, which can signal infection. Thickened, scaly skin is another symptom.
Eczema can cause intense itching. Scratching further irritates and inflames the skin. This can cause infections that must be treated with antibiotics.
WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS OF ECZEMA ?
Several factors can increase the risk of developing eczema. Eczema is more common in children who suffer from asthma and/or hay fever or who develop these conditions later, usually before the age of 30. People with family members who have eczema are also at higher risk of developing the disease.
WHAT IS THE OUTLOOK FOR ECZEMA ?
There is no definitive cure for eczema. In some cases, eczema can cause additional health complications.
Skin infections like impetigo are brought on by constant itching. When scratching breaks the skin, bacteria and viruses can enter. Signs of this include redness, pus-filled bumps, cold sores, or fever blisters.
Neurodermatitis is also caused frequent itching. It leaves skin thickened, red, raw, and darker in color. This is not a dangerous condition but may result in permanent discoloration and thickening of skin even when eczema is not active. Scratching can also cause scarring.
Many people with eczema report feeling embarrassed and self-conscious about their skin. Receiving proper treatment and getting stress under control can help calm the skin condition. Support groups also help sufferers cope.
Vigorous exercise can be difficult for people with eczema because sweating can bring on about of itching. Dress in layers so you can cool down while exercising. You may want to avoid intense physical activity during an eczema flare-up.