Eczema

Eczema – Atopic Dermatitis – The Causes and Treatment for this Skin Rash

What is eczema? Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a type of skin rashcharacterized by itchy, red, irritated patches. In severe cases of atopic dermatitis, the rash can ooze, flake, and cause the skin to thicken.

Children are most often affected by eczema, but adults can be affected as well. Other irritants and allergens worsen the skin condition. As the symptoms persist, the skin becomes more porous and allows irritants to penetrate it, causing an immune response. Many sufferers also have other allergic conditions, like asthma and hay fever.

What causes eczema? Is eczema genetic?

The exact cause of atopic dermatitis is not known but it is commonly found in families with a history of other allergic conditions. While genetics isn’t the sole factor, studies suggest that eczema is caused by a combination of factors, including genetics, environment, and an abnormal function of the immune system. Children born with the condition will often outgrow it before the age of ten. Although, for some people, it may persist into adulthood.

People with a history of atopic dermatitis can experience flare-ups, during which time the itching and inflammation is intensified, often as a result of contact with allergens or materials, temperature changes, or stress. Rough fabrics may trigger a flare-up of eczema for some sufferers. Household cleaning products or detergents with fragrances may worsen symptoms. Animal dander can cause an outbreak. Even respiratory conditions, like common colds, can cause the skin to flare up.

Is eczema contagious?

Generally speaking, eczema is not contagious. There is one form of eczema, known as eczema herpeticum, which is contagious. However, the most common form is not contagious.

Treatment for eczema

To keep their eczema under control, people should use fragrance-free detergents and soaps, avoid harsh cleaning products, and try to create a dust-free, dander-free environment. Taking anti-histamines and applying topical hydrocortisone creams can help subdue the symptoms of eczema. Because the skin becomes very dry, a humidifier and body lotion can be used to keep the skin moist. Cold compresses may relieve itching.

In some cases, prescription drugs are needed to control the symptoms of eczema. Oral medications or prescription ointments may be used to reduce inflammation. Medications in addition to a regular skin care regimen can reduce the occurrence of flare-ups. Each person may have different triggers but a dermatologist can help find a course of treatment that works for each individual.

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