Eczema, also known as 'atopic eczema' or 'atopic dermatitis', is a skin condition causing inflammation and intense irritation. Eczema symptoms tend to be caused by dry skin. The skin becomes hot, itchy and inflamed; it may also be red and appear irritated.
In young children, patches of dry, scaly skin, or (less commonly) wet, weepy skin, can appear anywhere on the body. In older children, the eczema usually appears on wrists, ankles, elbows, knees and face, including the eyelids. In adults, it may localize, affecting the face, hands, neck and scalp although it can affect any part of the body.
Eczema can affect one's quality of life significantly and may also affect sleep patterns. Whilst this can make you irritable and frustrated, good management can help alleviate these problems. Many people do not understand that eczema is neither infectious nor contagious.
Diagnosis : Generally, dermatologists can diagnose eczema and differentiate whether you have eczema or another skin condition. Seasons of the year (for example, in winter), or even emotional responses (such as stress), may cause eczema to worsen. However, a large number of eczema sufferers are not able to link a cause to their symptoms. It is essential that any known triggers are avoided and sometimes keeping a 'trigger symptom' diary at home may help you to realize what might be causing flares. Important things to consider include bubble baths, shampoos, make-up products, chemicals such as cleaning products and occupational irritants such as hairdressing products or heavy oils and lubricants used in the motor industry or allergens, such as latex gloves, leather, cement or certain plants.
Can Food Allergies Cause Eczema?
No. Children are born with the tendency to have eczema and many things can make their eczema worse. These are known as 'triggers' for the eczema. Foods can be triggers for eczema especially in infants but the foods are not the primary cause of the eczema. If a food is found to make eczema worse, excluding that food may significantly improve symptoms but not cure the condition. A food that is not eaten often but causes symptoms may be easier to identify than one that is eaten daily, such as milk/dairy products, wheat or soya.
Treatment : Highlighting some treatment options that can be used:
Emollients : Emollient lotions and creams are prescribed for eczema and dry skin, and are, in their simplest form, mixtures of oil and water. Some emollients may also contain slight amounts of antibacterial chemicals (to avoid infection in broken skin), or steroids (to reduce inflammation).
Topical Steroid Creams : Many people worry when steroids are mentioned as a treatment option because of stories they may have heard. Topical steroids are safe to use but it is important to always follow the instructions provided, making sure you understand which areas you apply the cream to and exactly how much. If you have any questions, then ask your doctor or nurse for further advice and information.
Wet Wraps : Sometimes, special pyjama-like garments (known as 'wet wraps') that are used for children, may also help certain areas of your body that have not responded to the usual topical application of emollients and steroids. Wet wraps can also be useful if you suffer from itch at night and cannot sleep, allowing you to have a better quality of sleep during times when the eczema is particularly bad.
I strongly advise that you consult a Dermatologist for skin problems. A specialist's experienced advise is all that's required.