Eczema is a group of conditions that causes the skin to become reddened, inflamed, bumpy, dry and itchy.
The usual indications of eczema include the following:
- Skin redness
- Scaly, dry or crusted skin that becomes thick and leathery from scratching
- Formation of bumps or small-sized blisters filled with fluid that ooze when scratched
Among adults, the skin condition often develops on the hands. As for children, the skin condition is prevalent in the “bending” areas such as the interior of the elbows and back part of the knees. Among infants, eczema is generally worse on the neck, face and scalp.
What are the causes?
The precise cause is not known. Nevertheless, it tends to run in families and occurs more often among those with a personal or family history of asthma, hay fever and other allergies.
Additionally, the symptoms are likely to flare-up or worsen once the individual is exposed to certain triggers.
The common triggers might include the following:
- Skin irritants – harsh soaps, perfumes, chemicals and skin care products that contain alcohol or fragrance. Certain fabrics such as wool and tight clothing are also triggers.
- Allergens – animal dander, pollen and even certain foods.
- Stress – being stressed out can trigger flare-ups in some individuals with eczema
- Climate and environment – low humidity can trigger skin dryness and itchiness. Increased humidity and heat can result to swelling that can worsen the itchiness
Management of eczema
The treatment is based on the symptoms and factors that trigger or worsen the symptoms. The objective of treatment to alleviate the itchiness and discomfort as well as prevent infection and future flare-ups.
Some of the commonly used treatment options include:
- Prevention – preventing the flare-ups is the ideal way to manage the skin condition. It is vital to identify and avoid any triggers and keeping the skin moisturized.
- Proper skin care – maintaining proper moisture of the skin is vital since itchiness intensifies if the skin is dry. Apply a moisturizing ointment or cream several times throughout the day including after a bath or shower while the skin is still damp. The products that must be used should be mild and free from dyes, perfumes and alcohol
- Medications – over-the-counter ointments and creams that contain cortisone such as hydrocortisone can help minimize the swelling, itchiness and redness linked with eczema. Prescription steroid creams are also available.
- Phototherapy – the ultraviolet light waves present in sunlight is beneficial in certain skin disorders including eczema. Phototherapy involves ultraviolet light from a specialized lamp.