March 15th, 2016
Atopic Eczema is the most common form of eczema and mainly affects children, though it can continue into adulthood. About 1 in 5 children are affected and in 8 out of 10 cases it occurs befre the child is 5. The exact cause is unknown but it does tend to run in families.
Eczema is a dry, itchy skin condition that can become red and cracked. It normally occurs behind the knees, inside the elbows, on the side of the neck and around the eyes and ears. It can vary in severity but most people are only mildly affected.
Research shows eczema is largely inherited with a 60% chance of inheriting the condition if one parent has it and 80% if both parents are affected. It will develop after you have been exposed to certain allergens like house dust mites, pet fur and pollen.
It can also be caused by certain foods such as cow’s milk, eggs, nuts, soya and wheat. Other things that are likely to bring out eczema are cold weather, dampness, harsh soaps, washing too much and rough clothing.
Although there is no cure for eczema it can be treated. The usual treatments are emollients which moisturise your skin and low strength corticosteroid creams or ointments to reduce inflammation and redness during flare ups.
Emollients are the most important treatment and come in different forms:
You should use your emollient even when you don’t have symptoms. Keeping separate supplies at school or work is a good idea. To apply the moisturiser:
If you have a flare up your GP may prescribe a topical corticosteroid. These come in different strengths. The worse your flare up is the stronger the steroid you will need. You should apply the steroid thinly, 30 minutes after you have moisturised, not more than twice a day. Continue using for 48 hours after the flare up has died down.
The complications of eczema can be both physical and psychological. If you scratch your eczema it may become infected and preschool children with eczema are more likely to have behavioural problems. It can also cause sleep disturbances which can lead to poor performance and a drop in confidence due to poor self image.
If you would like to discuss any of these issues with our pharmacist, please call into any Newline Pharmacy branch and we will be pleased to offer advice. Just ask to speak to the pharmacist at any time.