Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) is a skin condition that is characterized by a chronic rash. Skin becomes dry, itchy and red and can also become scaly, cracked and leathery in texture. It can appear on any part of the body, especially the folds of the skin (elbow, knees, behind the ears and neck area) and is most commonly found among infants and young children but can also appear in adults and can become very difficult to treat without the help of a specialized doctor. Those who suffer from eczema often also develop over time (Allergic March) other allergic conditions including hay fever and asthma.
Eczema is genetic (i.e. filaggrin gene) running in people who carry certain genes that cause people to have overly sensitive skin. Other factors include an over-sensitive immune system (which is what causes allergies), skin barrier defects such as the escape of moisture from the skin, as well as things like stress, extreme temperatures, dry skin, and contact with irritants such as certain soaps and fabrics.
Eczema manifests itself initially as itching, followed by a chronic rash. This rash is characterized by thick and dry skin and normally appears on the face, neck, hands or legs, but can occur anywhere on the body. Children often experience symptoms inside their knees and elbows. When scratched, these dry patches can develop crusty sores and become infected.
Those with a history of eczema who experience these symptoms, or who find a skin irritation doesn’t clear up within a week after using over-the-counter treatments may need to see a doctor for more aggressive therapy. In addition, if blisters or a light brown or yellow crust appears over the rash, one should seek medical attention.
While experiencing an outbreak, patients should avoid exposure to any viral skin diseases, including genital herpes or cold sores. Eczema increases a person’s risk of contracting this virus.
Lotions to the skin are very important but most important is to determine if there are any triggers for reactions and have a long-term care plan.