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Medical Dermatology

Atopic Dermatitis / Eczema

What is eczema?

Atopic dermatitis or eczema is a condition in which the skin becomes extremely itchy, inflamed, swollen, dry, cracked and crusted. It is a common skin disease in children and infants, although it can occur at any age. Statistics show that approximately 65% of patients develop symptoms in the first year of life and 90% develop symptoms before the age of five. If the onset of eczema occurs during infancy, it is important to note that in many cases it improves prior to two years of age. Permanent remission is experienced by many children as they get older.

What causes eczema?

The overall cause of eczema is unclear, but researchers know that it is triggered by a combination of hereditary and biological factors. Allergies and hay fevers, irritants such as perfumes and dyes found in detergents, fabric softeners and rough fabrics have all been shown to aggravate eczema. Anxiety and stress may also be a factor in causing symptoms to become more sever. It is not unusual to find more than one person in a family experiencing the same problems. Although some foods may provoke attacks, eliminating them will rarely bring about a cure or lasting improvements.

What is the treatment for eczema?

A wide variety of treatments are available, depending on the age of the patient and severity of the condition. The goal of treatment is to heal the skin and to prevent and minimize future attacks. Emollients, Topical prescription steroid creams and ointments, Antibiotics, Antihistamines are some of the treatments available.

Tips for treating eczema:

  • Take brief, lukewarm baths or showers using soap free cleansers
  • Gently pat skin dry with a soft towel as opposed to wiping after cleansing
  • Apply lubricants (creams or ointments) or other medications as prescribed by a doctor
  • Wear non irritating clothing
  • Keep the sleep environment temperature cool
  • Use perfume and dye free detergent

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