Eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema) is a condition that causes your skin to become red and itchy. Particularly around this time of the year, with harsh changes in weather conditions, flare ups can become more frequent and learning how best to prevent or reduce the symptoms can be vital.
Atopic Eczema is a very common, non-contagious and chronic inflammatory skin disorder. To date, no cure has been found for it. However, treatments and self-care can be extremely useful in reducing itchiness and redness on the skin.
It can occur at any stage of life but is more common among children with 1 in 5 children and 1 in 12 adults in Ireland.
Red, itchy, dry skin appears and can sometimes weep, blister and become crusted over. This often happens on the inner sides of the arm, behind the knees, elbow and wrist creases and the hands.
Appearance of symptoms tend to fluctuate and there may be times where symptoms improve, followed by flare-ups where symptoms worsen.
Symptom severity can depend on the person. Mild eczema may include only a few patches of dry itchy skin that occurs every now and again, whereas severe eczema can lead to widespread red, inflamed and itchy skin all over the body that can affect your daily life. This can lead to lack of sleep; bleeding skin, and secondary infections may occur as a result.
Infection – If you notice your eczema getting excessively worse, oozing from the itchy areas, yellow crusts developing on the skin and swollen, tender skin, these can all be signs of an infection. Visit your GP as soon as you notice these signs so they can be treated as soon as possible.
No exact cause is known; however, there are certain factors that seem to be important in its development. People with eczema can have weakened skin barriers leading to an inability to hold moisture which causes dry skin. Also, inflammatory responses may be altered and there may be a genetic factor to atopic eczema where, if your parents have it, you are more likely to develop it.
There are several things that may trigger flare-ups, these can include:
· Irritants – soaps, detergents, washing-up liquid and certain skin products can cause flare-ups; sensitive skin products may be necessary to avoid such symptoms arising.
· Allergies – food allergies such as peanuts, dairy, eggs, etc. may have skin inflammation associated with them, as well as other allergies like hayfever.
· Environmental factors – factors such as cold and dry weather.
· Materials – certain types of fabrics can make skin extremely sensitive.
· Stress – increases in stress can be linked to eczema and worsening of symptoms.
Identifying these triggers is the first step to improving symptoms and reducing the frequency of flare-ups.
The best way to prevent eczema and manage flare-ups is to identify the triggers associated with your type of eczema. Avoiding these triggers gives you the best possible chance of avoiding any flare-ups and suffering the symptoms.
However, there are numerous treatment options for people suffering with eczema. Treatment options don’t always work for everyone and it may take some time to find the treatment that works best for your skin.
Emollients (moisturisers) are the main treatment for eczema to prevent dry skin. Doublebase Emollient Gel is a highly moisturising and protective gel to soothe dry, chapped, inflamed and itchy skin; an extremely reliable treatment for both eczema and psoriasis, it is highly recommended.
Childs Farm Moisturiser offers a rich and luxurious treatment option for eczema-prone skin. This is suitable for both adults, children and even new-borns so you know it’s for sensitive skin.
Antihistamines may be useful if the eczema is caused by an allergic reaction to something. Antihistamines work by reducing the inflammatory signals in your body to reduce swelling and redness.
If your eczema worsens, a visit to your GP may be necessary and they may prescribe you corticosteroid creams or ointments to reduce swelling, inflammation and itching.
If you are unsure what to do with your eczema and wondering if it is mild or severe, call into one of your pharmacies and you can talk to us in both confidence and privacy. We will advise you on your next steps, recommend various treatments and inform you on eczema itself.
For any further queries, call us, use our PharmaChat service to talk to a pharmacist immediately or call into us.