What Is Eczema?

Find out more about this itchy condition…

Let’s Talk Eczema

The most common type of eczema is atopic eczema which causes the skin to become dry, itchy and cracked. It can be uncomfortable and painful and in severe cases it can be difficult to cope with, both physically and mentally. Eczema is usually a long-term condition but the symptoms can improve or even clear completely as you get older. People who suffer from eczema often experience periods of ‘flare-ups’ (when their symptoms worsen) and times when their eczema symptoms ease.

Is Eczema Contagious?

No, eczema is not contagious. It’s mostly found in children who often develop eczema as a baby but it can also appear for the first time in adults.

What Are The Symptoms Of Eczema?

Look out for:

  • Skin that’s itchy, dry, cracked and sore. Eczema can affect any part of the body but it’s usually found on the hands, inside of the elbows, backs of the knees and the face and scalp.
  • Inflamed skin. On light skin, these inflammations look red and angry. On darker skin, they appear as dark brown, purple or grey patches. These patches of inflamed skin can differ in size and may only appear in a few places or all over the body in more severe cases.

What Causes Eczema?

There’s no known cause but it’s widely agreed that eczema is not caused by one single thing but rather a variety of reasons. Possible causes for eczema could be that it runs in your family or you develop it alongside another condition, such as asthma or hayfever. Atopic eczema often affects people who have allergies.

Certain things are thought to trigger eczema symptoms. These could be soaps, stress, detergents and even the weather. Whilst there is no scientific evidence that certain foods trigger a flare in eczema, some patients do notice a worsening of symptoms associated with diet. If that is you, try cutting that food out to see if your symptoms improve and then reintroduce the food to see if your symptoms flare. If you are considering cutting a food group out of your diet long term, however, do speak to a dietician to make sure that you are replacing the lost nutrients with a different food. 

How Do You Treat Eczema?

You can:

  • Avoid scratching and itching the affected areas.
  • Avoid certain triggers, such as perfumed detergents or trigger foods.

Your doctor can prescribe:

  • Emollients (moisturising creams and lotions) to help soothe and calm any inflamed skin. These emollients can be used daily and can really improve your quality of life.
  • Topical corticosteroids. This is an anti-inflammatory medicine to reduce redness and swelling.

I Think I Have Eczema

Visit your doctor if you think you might have eczema. It’s a common condition and your doctor will ask questions and look at your skin to help them reach a diagnosis. They can also prescribe medication to help you manage the symptoms.

More Help & Advice  

For more guidance, head on over to the National Eczema Society.


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