What is Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a non-contagious inflammatory skin condition. It is a chronic disease characterized by dry, itchy skin that can weep clear fluid when scratched. People with eczema also may be particularly susceptible to bacterial, viral, and fungal skin infections.
A note to patients or parents seeking help and advice for themselves or their children. Our Medika Forum will offer a broad range of advice on Eczema. It’s free to use, but you’ll need to register for a free account first on Medika. Please, please keep the following in mind when dealing with eczema.
Five different eczema patients can present with identical rashes and each may have a different underlying cause for the rash. It could be stress, diet, allergies, environmental irritants, or other medical conditions. For this reason, there is no cure-all for Eczema, don’t pin your hopes on a product simply because it’s helped another person. It may work for you or it may not.
Possibly the best advice we can offer you is that you identify, if you can, the underlying cause for the rash. It can help you avoid the irritant if it ingested or environmental. It also means narrowing down the treatments that may or may not work for you. Some hit it lucky after two treatments, others struggle through twenty, and yet others find that their skin develops a resistance to a product that was helping. To assist with this there are links in the article below to proper exclusion diets and advice and information.
Eczema can be one of the most frustrating conditions to deal with. It requires patience and empathy, particularly when you’re dealing with children. It’s one of the reasons we use the Forum to allow people to interact with fellow sufferers, both for support and for sharing advice. This page is a good starting point if you’re just starting to learn about eczema. We’ve linked to a few resources on Medika that we have created in an effort to help you resolve your condition or at least, live comfortably with it.
Causes & Strategies for Prevention
A combination of genetic and environmental factors appears to be involved in the development of eczema. The condition often is associated with other allergic diseases such as asthma, hay fever, and food allergy. Children whose parents have asthma and allergies are more likely to develop atopic dermatitis than children of parents without allergic diseases.
Approximately 30 percent of children with atopic dermatitis have food allergies, and many develop asthma or respiratory allergies. People who live in cities or drier climates also appear more likely to develop the disease.
The condition tends to worsen when a person is exposed to certain triggers, such as
- Pollen, mold, dust mites, animals, and certain foods (for allergic individuals)
- Cold and dry air
- Colds or the flu
- Skin contact with irritating chemicals
- Skin contact with rough materials such as wool
- Emotional factors such as stress
- Fragrances or dyes added to skin lotions or soaps.
Taking too many baths or showers and not moisturizing the skin properly afterward may also make eczema worse.
Skin Care at Home
You and your doctor should discuss the best treatment plan and medications for your atopic dermatitis. But taking care of your skin at home may reduce the need for prescription medications. Some recommendations include
- Avoid scratching the rash or skin.
- Relieve the itch by using a moisturizer or topical steroids. Take antihistamines to reduce severe itching.
- Keep your fingernails cut short. Consider light gloves if nighttime scratching is a problem.
- Lubricate or moisturize the skin two to three times a day using ointments such as petroleum jelly. Moisturizers should be free of alcohol, scents, dyes, fragrances, and other skin-irritating chemicals. A humidifier in the home also can help.
- Avoid anything that worsens symptoms, including
- Irritants such as wool and lanolin (an oily substance derived from sheep wool used in some moisturizers and cosmetics)
- Strong soaps or detergents
- Sudden changes in body temperature and stress, which may cause sweating
- When washing or bathing
- Keep water contact as brief as possible and use gentle body washes and cleansers instead of regular soaps. Lukewarm baths are better than long, hot baths.
- Do not scrub or dry the skin too hard or for too long.
- After bathing, apply lubricating ointments to damp skin. This will help trap moisture in the skin.
These Eczema resources may be of benefit to you
- The Different Types of Eczema
- Exclusion Diets – Identifying Allergens
- RAST Allergy Testing
- Skin Patch and Skin Prick Allergy Testing
- Avoiding Environmental Irritants
- Eczema and Stress
- Steroid Creams and Skin Care
- Alternate Health treatments for Eczema
- Epipen® and why carrying one may save your life.
- Wet Wrap Therapy for Eczema
- Which Doctors are best trained to deal with Eczema?
- Cycling Eczema Treatments
- The truth about Water and your Skin