Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition characterized by inflammation and intense itching. It is a common condition that can affect people of all ages, but it is particularly common in infants and young children.
The exact cause of eczema is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. People with eczema often have a dysfunctional skin barrier, which allows irritants and allergens to penetrate the skin more easily, leading to inflammation and itching.
Symptoms of eczema can vary but typically include dry, red, and itchy patches of skin. The affected areas may also develop small fluid-filled blisters that can ooze and crust over. Common areas of the body affected by eczema include the face, hands, elbows, and behind the knees, although it can occur on any part of the body.
Eczema is a chronic condition, and symptoms can come and go in episodes or flare-ups. Factors that can trigger or worsen eczema symptoms include exposure to irritants (such as certain soaps, detergents, or fabrics), allergens (such as dust mites or certain foods), dry skin, stress, temperature changes, and hormonal changes.
Treatment for eczema aims to relieve symptoms, reduce inflammation, and prevent flare-ups. This typically involves a combination of measures, including:
1. Moisturizing the skin regularly to prevent dryness.
2. Avoiding known triggers and irritants.
3. Using topical corticosteroid creams or ointments to reduce inflammation during flare-ups.
4. Applying topical calcineurin inhibitors, such as tacrolimus or pimecrolimus, for areas that are more sensitive or on the face.
5. Taking oral antihistamines to help relieve itching and improve sleep during flare-ups.
6. Managing stress levels through relaxation techniques or counseling, as stress can worsen symptoms.
In severe cases or when other treatments are not effective, a healthcare professional may recommend systemic medications or immunosuppressive therapies.
It's important for individuals with eczema to work closely with a healthcare professional, such as a dermatologist, to develop an individualized treatment plan and receive appropriate support and guidance.