What is Eczema?
The term ‘eczema’, also known as dermatitis, for most people usually means inflamed, sensitive, unhappy skin.
It’s very common and affects about one in four people at some point in their lives. There are various types of eczema, but all are characteristically very itchy and unpleasant to live with, negatively impacting the sufferer’s quality of life, including chronic loss of sleep. Regardless of the cause, eczema can nearly always be managed very successfully, although sometimes this will stop short of a cure, meaning some treatments may need to be used long term to keep your skin in good shape.
WHAT CAUSES ECZEMA?
There is often more than one cause for eczema and getting to the bottom of what is triggering the individual’s disease can require careful thought, examination and investigation. This might involve blood tests or patch testing to look for possible allergies. In many cases there is a genetic or inherited component. In most cases people have come into physical contact with allergens or irritants which can aggravate their skin. Examples include dust, pet hair, grasses, pollens, sand, soap, shampoos, washing powders, cosmetics, perfumes, tobacco smoke, chemicals, and air-conditioning. Perhaps surprisingly, true food allergy as a cause of eczema is relatively rare.
How is Eczema treated?
Whatever the underlying cause of a person’s eczema, the good news is that nearly all cases can be managed very successfully. In patients where there is a strong genetic component, the tendency to eczema cannot be cured, so sometimes treatments need to be used long term to keep the skin in good shape. Allergen and irritant avoidance are an extremely important part of managing eczema. This will be discussed with you in detail by your Dermatologist. Eczema is a dry skin condition, so regular moisturising is also important. In many cases people will need a steroid (cortisone) cream as well. Used correctly these can be extremely effective and safe. Some patients respond well to ultraviolet light treatment. More stubborn cases may need treatment with tablets, which can be life-changing when all else fails.