What Is It?

Eczema is a general term for all types of dermatitis. It is a common skin condition characterised by the inflammation, swelling or irritation of the skin. It often begins in infancy or early childhood, but can also start in young adults, or even later in life.

The condition appears in many forms, with the most common forms being atopic dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, discoid eczema, dyshidrotic eczema, eczema craquele and venous eczema. These forms of eczema are usually distinguished based on age of onset, clinical appearance, history and the sites involved.

What Causes Atopic Dermatitis (Atopic Eczema)?

The exact cause of eczema is unknown, however genetic and environmental influences are significantly important. People with eczema often have relatives with eczema or sensitive skin and asthma or hayfever. Patients with eczema have a problem with their skin barrier function, resulting in water loss from the skin, leaving it dry, scaly and vulnerable to allergens, infections and irritants.

What Does Atopic Dermatitis Look Like?

Eczema can vary in appearance, but is usually characterised by areas of itchy, red, scaly skin, sometimes with crusting, oozing and weeping, especially if infected from scratching. Repeated scratching may, unfortunately, cause the skin to become thickened and sometimes darkened in colour. The most common symptoms of eczema are dry, sensitive skin, intense itching and red, inflamed skin, recurring rash, scaly areas, rough, leathery patches, oozing or crusting, areas of swelling and dark coloured patches of skin.

Treatment

Eczema is usually a long-term problem. While it cannot be cured, the condition can certainly be controlled. The suggested approach for management of eczema includes:

  • Avoid irritants: protect the skin from exposure to water and detergents

  • Bathing: avoid long, hot showers (use luke-warm water) or prolonged baths. Use a soap-free wash instead of soap, or bath oil. After bathing, apply a moisturiser on the affected area.

  • Clothing: avoid rough fabrics such as wool and some synthetics and wear soft, breathable fabrics.

  • Topical steroids: these are common and provide an effective relief option for eczema and help reduce inflammation.

  • Other prescription anti-inflammatory creams can sometimes be used instead of topical steroids, such as Elidel (which is a topical calcineurin inhibitor).

  • Antibiotics: if your eczema is infected, it may well require a course of systemic antibiotics.

  • For severe eczema, additional approaches that may be used to control the problem include narrow-band UVB, Excimer laser and various systemic medications.

What’s the next step?

If you already have an appointment booked at The Skin Specialist Centre, you can easily add an eczema treatment consultation to your booking by calling our friendly team on (09) 524 5011. If you have never been to The Skin Specialist Centre, you can either give us a call on (09) 524 5011 or make an enquiry by clicking on the Enquire Now option below.