Eczema is a skin condition that is characterised by intense itchiness, redness, dryness, and sometimes blistering, weeping or crusting, arising from inflammation of the skin, on small patches or large swathes of the body. People with eczema typically have dry and sensitive skin, and can easily fall into an itch-scratch cycle – dry, sensitive skin is prone to inflammation, which triggers itching, resulting in scratching, which triggers more inflammation, and in turn, more itching.
The most commonly affected areas of the skin include:
- The back of the hands
- Tops of the feet
- Folds of the arms and legs, as well as other bends in the skin, such as the inner elbow
What Causes Eczema?
While the exact causes of eczema are still widely discussed and investigated, there are usually 2 possible factors:
Genetic – In some cases, the condition is hereditary.
Children may inherit from their parents, a skin type that is dry, sensitive, and prone to eczema flare-ups.
Environmental – Inflammation of the skin may be triggered by various environmental factors: allergens such as pet hair, the faeces of dust mites, pollen, mould; irritants such as certain household chemicals, clothing materials, metals; food such as dairy products, shellfish, nuts.
How Is Eczema Managed?
There is no definite cure for eczema, but there are treatments and actions that can help alleviate the itch or discomfort of the condition.
Treatment options for eczema include medication (over-the-counter or prescription cortisone creams) and phototherapy (moderate, supervised exposure to UVA or UVB light).
Avoiding or minimising exposure to environmental factors which potentially trigger eczema may also be necessary.
Implementing a suitable skincare routine is very crucial to managing eczema effectively. Moisturising regularly, in particular, is the key to keeping the skin hydrated, which relieves dryness and prevents falling into the itch-scratch cycle. Select mild, fragrance-free and non-irritating skincare that soothes and protects the skin without triggering inflammation.