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Eczema: Ditch the Itch with These Tips

Dr. Agnes Joseph

About 15% of children have eczema, but it only occurs in 2-4% of adults.

You might have noticed an itchy, red patch on your baby’s cheeks, chin, or chest that she or he scratched until it became even more irritated. Or maybe you experienced something similar on your own neck, inner elbows, or behind your knees. That’s probably after you had gone to a hospital and the doctor told you it was eczema.

Eczema is the name for a group of conditions that cause the skin to become red, itchy and inflamed. It is of several types: atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, nummular eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and stasis dermatitis. This issue is very common, and in many cases, it is manageable.

Prevalence

About 15% of children have eczema, but it only occurs in 2-4% of adults. Adults with eczema often have a more severe type. It usually starts during the first two years of life – typically between a baby’s third and sixth month. Some children also develop it later, but it is quite rare for eczema to develop after the age of five years. It is estimated that eczema goes away within ten years in more than 80% of all affected children, and within 20 years in up to 95%.

Symptoms

The most important thing to remember is that eczema and its symptoms are different for everyone. Your eczema may not look the same on you as it does on another adult, or on your child. It may even appear in different areas of the body at different times. 

It is usually itchy. For many people, the itch is usually only mild, or moderate. But in some cases, it can become much worse and you might develop extremely inflamed skin. 

What to look for:

  • Dry, sensitive skin
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Very bad itching
  • Dark coloured patches of skin
  • Rough, leathery or flaky patches of skin
  • Oozing or crusting
  • Areas of swelling

Causes

While the exact cause of eczema is unknown, researchers do know that people who develop it, do so because of a combination of genes and environmental triggers. When an irritant or an allergen “switches on” the immune system, skin cells don’t behave as they should causing a flare-up. Also, it is not contagious. You can’t “catch it” from someone else.

Here are a few ways to prevent flare-ups and manage symptoms:

  • Apply cool compresses to your skin, or take a colloidal oatmeal or baking soda bath to relieve the itch. 
  • Moisturize your skin daily with a rich, oil-based cream or ointment to form a protective barrier against the elements. Apply the cream right after you get out of the shower or bath to seal in moisture.
  • After you bathe, gently blot your skin with a soft towel. Never rub.
  • Avoid scratching. 
  • Use fragrance-free detergents, cleansers, makeup, and other skin care products.
  • Wear gloves and protective clothing whenever you handle chemicals.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes made from soft fibers, like cotton.

If you are suffering from eczema or showing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, you can consult with top doctors in your city on the Mfine app.

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