Eczema Symptoms

Eczema is the medical term for a group of skin conditions that involve inflammation and irritation, although the symptoms can vary. The most commonly found type of eczema is called atopic dermatitis, or atopic eczema. Atopic is, by definition, a cluster of diseases that consists of an inherited tendency to turn into other allergic cases; for example, hay fever or asthma.

The occurrence of atopic eczema is intensifying exponentially, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, and affects 9 to 30 percent of the population in the United States, principally children and infants. With young children, the condition usually resolves itself by their second year of life, but for others, it affects them throughout their lives. The condition can be contained and controlled with consistent medical treatment.


Medical experts cannot pinpoint the exact cause of eczema, but there seems to be a link to a spike in the immune system of the body due to triggers that are unknown in nature thus far. There also seems to be a link between eczema and other allergic conditions within a family's genealogy, such as asthma or hay fever.

One main symptom of eczema is overwhelming itchiness. The itching can begin before the rash becomes evident, which can appear on hands, feet, face or knees as well as other areas of the body. The areas of the rash are quite dry, thickened and/or scaly in appearance. On light-skinned patients, the affected area can be reddish in color and then eventually turn a darker brown. On dark-skinned patients, the area can affect the pigmentation of the epidermis, causing the skin to appear darker or lighter in color.

On younger patients such as infants, the rash can cause an oozing, crusting skin condition that appears mostly on the scalp or facial area, but can be found anywhere.

Eczema consists of "flare-ups," which are eruptions from time to time of the itchy, painful rash. These flare-ups can occur from a reaction to the wrong material in clothing touching the affected skin, or being in overly cold or hot conditions, or an allergic reaction to soap or detergents, or even coming in contact with animal dander. Colds or respiratory infections can also trigger a flare-up. Stress has been found to worsen a flare-up as well.

There is no medical cure, but patients can regulate their condition with proper medical attention and avoidance of known triggers. The disease is not contagious.

Treatment of Eczema

Eczema can be diagnosed by a pediatrician, allergist, immunologist, dermatologist or a primary care medical authority. A doctor may administer an allergy test to discover triggers for your condition, especially if the patient is a child.

Treatment of eczema involves the direct relief of the itching that is a huge part of the disease, as if left untreated, in can cause an infection. Dry, itchy skin can be treated with creams or lotions and are recommended in a daily routine to prevent flare-ups because they keep the skin moist. They are best administered after bathing, as the skin absorbs moisture better at this time. If topical treatment is over-the-counter rather than prescribed, patients should be careful that the lotions or creams they choose are hypoallergenic to make sure that the application is not counterproductive. Cold compresses can also help to alleviate itching during flare-ups. Hydrocortisone can be used to help with inflammation, as well as prescription creams and lotions which are primarily composed of strong corticosteroids.

More severe cases may call for short administrations of oral corticosteroids, which will be employed by a medical professional. If the area becomes infected, your doctor may order antibiotics to take care of the severe symptoms.

Other treatments can include antihistamines to help with itching, phototherapy (a medical procedure involving ultraviolet light), tar treatments (chemicals to help with itching) and the prescription drug cyclosporine in extreme cases of the disease.

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