In this article, we will explore and answer 10 common questions about eczema, hopefully providing some guidance for those living with eczema as well as those in their life.
1.What is eczema?
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that primarily affects children but can continue into adulthood. It is characterised by red, itchy, and inflamed skin patches that may be accompanied by blistering, oozing, and crusting. Eczema tends to appear on the face, neck, hands, and the folds of the body, such as the elbows and knees.
2. Who can get eczema?
Eczema can affect people of all ages, but it is most common in infants and children. In many cases, the condition improves as you get older, but some individuals may continue to experience eczema flare-ups throughout their lives. It can run in families, suggesting that there may be a genetic component to the condition.
3. What causes eczema?
There isn’t a specifically recognized cause of eczema. There is some research into it being a result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Eczema is often associated with an overactive immune system, leading to increased inflammation and hypersensitivity to various triggers.
4. What triggers eczema flare-ups?
Eczema flare-ups can be triggered by a variety of factors, such as external irritants, environmental factors, clothing/materials, hormonal changes and/or food allergies. To learn more about these triggers, read our article ‘What triggers eczema flare-ups?’, which is more of a deep dive into the question.
5. Can eczema be cured?
There is no current cure for eczema. However, eczema can be managed effectively through the right treatment plan and many individuals will experience long periods of remission where their symptoms disappear or improve significantly. Management of eczema can include various things like lifestyle changes, medication, diet etc.
6. How is eczema diagnosed?
To diagnose eczema, usually a doctor will complete a physical examination and review one’s medical history. A dermatologist or a GP may ask about one’s symptoms, family history, and about any possible triggers or irritants. In some cases, a skin biopsy may be completed to rule out other skin conditions or allergies.
7. What are common eczema treatments?
The treatment for eczema varies depending on the severity of the condition. Common treatments include:
- Topical corticosteroids: These are anti-inflammatory creams or ointments that help reduce redness and itching.
- Moisturisers: Regularly applying moisturiser helps keep the skin hydrated and reduces the risk of flare-ups.
- Antihistamines: These may be used to alleviate itching and help with sleep.
- Phototherapy: Controlled exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light can be beneficial for some patients.
- Immunosuppressants: In severe cases, oral medications may be prescribed to control inflammation.
8. How can I manage eczema symptoms?
There are many ways to manage eczema symptoms, some are:
- Moisturizing daily: Keeping the skin well-hydrated with moisturizer can prevent dryness and reduce flare-ups.
- Identifying triggers: Identifying and avoiding specific irritants or allergens can help prevent flare-ups.
- Gentle skincare: Using mild, fragrance-free soaps and avoiding harsh products can be helpful to keeping your skin calm.
- Stress management: Reducing stress through techniques like mindfulness, yoga, or deep breathing exercises can help minimise flare-ups.
- Protecting the skin: Wearing protective clothing, such as long sleeves and gloves, can help shield your skin from harsh weather conditions.
- Seeking medical advice: Regular check-ups with a dermatologist are helpful to managing eczema effectively.
9. Is eczema contagious?
Eczema is not contagious. It cannot be passed from one person to another through physical contact or exposure to affected skin – it is not an infection disease.
10. Can diet affect eczema?
Diet can play a role in some cases of eczema. Some individuals may be sensitive or allergic to certain foods that can trigger or worsen eczema symptoms. If you think that your diet is contributing to your eczema, consider keeping a food diary and consult with your doctor to investigate the role diet may be playing in your symptoms.
Eczema is a common but often challenging skin condition, but with the right management strategies, individuals can find relief and lead a comfortable life. By understanding the causes, triggers, and treatment options, those affected by eczema can take proactive steps to minimise the impact that it has on their daily lives. It’s important to remember that everyone’s experience with eczema is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s important to support people in your life with eczema, as emotional support can help make the journey with the condition a lot easier.
Want to improve your self-management skills? Download the free My Derm app and gain more confidence in managing your condition!