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Eczema Explained

Thursday, May 13th

Eczema Explained

Eczema is actually a general term used to describe various skin disorders. The appearance of eczema can vary from individuals but is usually characterized by dry, red, itchy patches. Medical professionals often call eczema the itch that rashes. These eczema patches are more prevalent on the face, but can develop pretty much anywhere else. Other areas where eczema is common are on the scalp, forearms, and insides of elbows, back of knees, ankles and toes. Some eczema can actually become inflamed, causing the patches of dry, scaly skin to fill with small fluid-filled bumps that will ooze.

The National Institutes of Health estimates that close to 15 million individuals in the United States suffer from some form of eczema. About 10-20% of infants will develop this skin disorder, but most will outgrow it by age 5. Some studies show that eczema is an inherited disorder that runs in families, much like asthma or allergies. It is very important to remember though, that eczema is a non-contagious skin disorder.

Because eczema is an inherited affliction, there is no way to prevent this skin disorder. There are some triggers that can cause eczema to flare-up or worsen, however. These triggers can include, but are not limited to: dust, mold, animal dander, fabrics (such as wool), skin care products (especially those that contain alcohol), laundry detergent, jewelry, excessive heat, sweating and stress. Individuals that suffer from eczema should keep a diary to determine what causes their eczema flare-ups.

Eczema is handled in a variety of ways depending on the age of the individual and the severity of their eczema. Some eczema can be dealt with by simply changing habits or removing certain triggers. There are many products on the market that are made for individuals with sensitive skin or skin disorders. Special laundry detergents, soaps and make-up are common products that are produced for individuals with eczema. A person can also avoid wearing scratchy clothing such as wool and start taking warm showers instead of hot baths. If this does not work, the next step would be to take a non-prescription steroid cream, along with an anti-itching lotion. More serious cases of eczema require medical attention.

Medical prescription options for eczema may include any one of the following solutions: a prescription strength topical steroid cream (there are many on the market and vary in degrees of strength), oral steroids, and even antibiotics are used for more severe cases. Some individuals believe that phototherapy helps with eczema, though there is no medical proof of this. Individuals may need to talk with their doctor to identify what is right for them or their children in dealing with the effects of eczema.

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