Eczema for all:-

Eczema is also known as atopic dermatitis, or atopic eczema (the most common form of eczema). Atopic eczema mainly affects children, but it can continue into adulthood or start later in life. The word eczema comes from the Greek word ekzein meaning “to boil out”; the Greek word ek means “out”, while the Greek word zema means boiling.

Eczema is a chronic skin condition in which the skin becomes itchy, reddened, cracked and dry. Approximately 30% of all skin-related GP visits in Western Europe result in a diagnosis of atopic eczema. It affects both males and females equally, as well as people from different ethnic backgrounds. Most GPs (general practitioners, primary care physicians) in Western Europe, North America and Australia say the number of people diagnosed each year with eczema is has been rising in recent years.

What are the symptoms of eczema?

As atopic eczema is a chronic disease symptoms are generally present all the time. A chronic disease is a long-term one; one that persists for a long time. However, during a flare-up symptoms will worsen and the patient will probably require more intense treatment.

Below are some common symptoms of atopic eczema (without flare-up):

  • The skin may be broken in places.
  • Some areas of the skin are cracked.
  • The skin usually feels dry.
  • Many areas of skin are itchy, and sometimes raw if scratched a lot.
  • Itching usually worse at night.
  • Scratching may also result in areas of thickened skin.
  • Some areas of skin become red and inflamed.
  • Some inflamed areas develop blisters and weep (ooze liquid).
  • The skin has red to brownish-gray colored patches.
  • Areas of skin may have small, raised bumps.

Signs and Symptoms

1. Itchy, dry, scaly, red, blistered or swollen patches of skin, usually on the wrists, hands, face, scalp, and creases of the knees and elbows.

2. Oozing, crusting, thickening, or sometimes discoloration of the affected skin area.

What to do now

1. Soothe itchiness and keep skin moist by taking warm baths. Use mild cleanser or fragrance-free soap sparingly, and don’t scrub or towel your skin vigorously. Apply a fragrance-free moisturizer after bathing.

2. Apply over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream (don’t apply it on a baby less than 10 years old). Avoid using lotions that contain preservatives, oils, or perfumes.

3. Try an over-the-counter antihistamine to relieve itching.

4. Try not eat foods that seem to make your eczema flare up; some people report problems from cow’s milk eggs, wheat, flour, nuts, and citrus juices.

5. Wear soft, cotton gloves or mittens to bed to limit scratching while asleep. This can be especially helpful for children.

6. Wear loose, comfortable, cool clothing; sweating can make eczema worse. Avoid synthetic and wool fabrics, which may irritate the skin.

7. Relax and relieve stress by taking brisk walks or getting other exercise regularly.

When to call a doctor

1. If your condition doesn’t  get better after a week or two of home care, or if it keeps coming back. Your doctor may suggest more aggressive treatment.

2. If you develop an unexplained itchy rash, and eczema or asthma runs in your family.

3. If you get a yellowish or light brown crust or pus-filled blisters on top of eczema patches. You may have a bacterial infection that needs treatment with antibiotics, or a rare but potentially serious complication caused by a herpes virus.

How to prevent it

1. To keep skin from getting dry, take short, warm  showers or baths, and apply moisturizer immediately afterward.

2. To keep your hands from getting dry and chapped, wear mittens or gloves in cold weather. Wearing cotton gloves under wool or synthetic-fiber gloves will help prevent irritation. Use cotton-lined rubber gloves when you are hand-washing clothes and dishes.

3. Avoid as many skin irritants and allergy causing agents as you can. These include soaps, detergents, fragrances, dust, pet hair, tobacco smoke, and foods that seem to make your eczema worse.

4. Learn to spot potentially stressful situations, and practice relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation.

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