Eczema: Causes And Treatments

What Is Atopic Eczema?


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.

What Causes Eczema?

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.

What Eczema Treatmenst Are Available?

eczema hand creamAlthough 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:

  • Ointments for dry skin
  • Creams or lotions for less dry skin
  • Ones for your face
  • Ones to use in the bath or shower

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:

  • Use a large amount
  • Smooth into your skin in the same direction as your hair grows
  • Do not rub it in
  • For very dry skin use it every 2-3 hours
  • After a bath or shower, gently dry the skin and apply the moisturiser while the skin is still moist
  • Do not share your emollients
  • Do not put your fingers in the pot – use a spatula or pump dispenser

visual eczemaIf 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.

Complications Of Eczema

eczema complicationsThe 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.

eczema, hayfever, asthma


  1. What is eczema?
  2. What causes eczema?
  3. Who is affected?
  4. Name two symptoms
  5. What are the main triggers of eczema?
  6. What is the cure?
  7. How can it be treated?
  8. How should you use moisturisers?
  9. How should you use a topical steroid?
  10. What complications can eczema produce?

[expand title=”Quiz Answers”]

  1. Condition that makes the skin itchy and dry
  2. There is no single cause
  3. About 1 in 5 children
  4. Itchiness in the creases of your skin, you have asthma or hayfever, your skin is dry
  5. Genetics, allergens like house dust mite and certain foods, the cold, harsh soaps, rough clothing
  6. There is no cure for eczema
  7. Applying moisturisers and steroid creams, taking antihistimines & steroid tablets if it is severe
  8. Use lots, smooth it in, after a bath or shower, every 2-3 hours
  9. Apply a thin layer about 30 minutes after you moisturise
  10. Infections, sleep disturbances, bullying, drop in self-esteem



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