It’s Eczema Awareness Week 13-19th May 2019. One common misconception about eczema is that it is contagious. With eczema being so prevalent in Australia, it’s more important than ever to educate and raise awareness to those around us and support those who suffer from this debilitating condition.
What is eczema?
Eczema is a common skin condition that affects both children and adults. It’s also known as atopic eczema, atopic dermatitis and allergic eczema.
Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a recurring, non-infectious, inflammatory skin condition affecting one in three Australasians at some stage throughout their lives. The condition is most common in people with a family history of an atopic disorder, including asthma or hay fever.
Atopic eczema is the most common form of the disease among Australasians. The skin becomes red, dry, itchy and scaly, and in severe cases, may weep, bleed and crust over, causing the sufferer much discomfort. Sometimes the skin may become infected. The condition can also flare and subside for no apparent reason.
Although eczema affects all ages, it usually appears in early childhood (in babies between two-to-six months of age) and disappears around six years of age. In fact, more than half of all eczema sufferers show signs within their first 12 months of life and 20 per cent of people develop eczema before the age of five.
Most children grow out of the condition, but a small percentage may experience severe eczema into adulthood. The condition can not only affect the individual sufferer, but also their family and friends. Adult onset eczema is often very difficult to treat and may be caused by other factors such as medications.
What causes eczema?
The exact cause of eczema is unknown – it appears to be linked to the following internal and external triggers:
- A family history of eczema, asthma or hay fever (the strongest predictor): if both parents have eczema, there is an 80 per cent chance that their children may also develop eczema
- Some foods and alcohol: dairy and wheat products, citrus fruits, eggs, nuts, seafood, chemical food additives, preservatives and colourings
- Irritants: tobacco smoke, chemicals, weather (hot and humid or cold and dry conditions) and air conditioning or overheating
- Allergens : house dust mites, moulds, grasses, plant pollens, foods, pets and clothing, soaps, shampoos and washing
What are the symptoms of eczema?
- Moderate-to-severely itching skin
- rash – dry, red, patchy or cracked skin. Commonly it appears on the face, hands, neck, inner elbows, backs of the knees and ankles, but can appear on any part of the body.
- Skin weeping watery fluid
- Rough, “leathery,” thick skin
Is there a cure for eczema?
Although there is no known cure for eczema and it can be a lifelong condition, treatment can offer symptom control.
Eczema causes red, itchy and dry skin, which can be very irritating. But there are many ways to manage eczema and with your doctor’s help, you will likely find out what works for you.
Could you or your child have eczema? It is important to seek professional medical advice, our team at Providence Medical is here to help.
Don’t delay, book an appointment today.