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What Is Eczema | National Eczema Association

There is no cure for eczema, but, in most cases, it is manageable. The word eczema comes from a Greek word that means to effervesce or bubble or boil over. This website will help you answer the question What Is Eczema? and help you understand it. Its important to remember that many people have eczema. Over 30 million American may have it. There is no need to be embarrassed by your eczema. You are not alone. Atopic Dermatitis (which is often called eczema) is an itchy, red rash. It can appear all over the body. Many people have it on their elbows or behind their knees. Babies often have eczema on the face, especially the cheeks and chin. They can also have it on the scalp, trunk (chest and back), and outer arms and legs. Children and adults tend to have eczema on the neck, wrists, and ankles, and in areas that bend, like the inner elbow and knee. People with eczema are usually diagnosed with it when they are babies or young children. Eczema symptoms often become less severe as children grow into adults. For some people, eczema continues into adulthood. Less often, it can start in adulthood. The rash of eczema is different for each person. It may even look different or affect different parts of your body from time to time. It can be mild, moderate, or severe. Generally, people with eczema suffer from dry, sensitive skin. Eczema is also known for its intense itch. The itch may be so bad that you scratch your skin until it bleeds, which can make your rash even worse, leading to even more inflammation and itching. This is called the itch-scratch cycle.

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Eczema | BabyCenter

Definition of eczema in babies

Eczema (also called atopic dermatitis) is a skin rash that usually appears before age 5. In babies it tends to show up on the cheeks and scalp, but it may spread to the arms, legs, chest, or other parts of the body. After a child's first year, it's most likely to show up on the insides of the elbows, the backs of the knees, the wrists, and the ankles, but it can also appear elsewhere.

About 20 percent of babies and young children have eczema. It usually starts in infancy, with 65 percent of patients developing symptoms in the first year of life and 90 percent developing symptoms before age 5.

The rash might look like dry, thickened, scaly skin, or it might be made up of tiny red bumps that ooze or become infected if scratched. Scratching can also cause thickened, darkened, or scarred skin over time.

Eczema typically comes and goes. It isn't contagious, but because it's intensely itchy, it can be very uncomfortable, and scratching can be a problem. If untreated, the rash can be unsightly, so it may present a social challenge for a child, too.

Your doctor can diagnose eczema by examining your child's skin. He may send you to a dermatologist for confirmation and treatment.

There's no way to know ahead of time whether a child will outgrow eczema, but fortunately the condition usually becomes less severe with age. Many children outgrow eczema by age 2, and many others outgrow it by adulthood.

Dr P. Marazzi / Science Source

No one knows for sure what causes it, but the tendency to have eczema is often inherited. So your child is more likely to have it if you or a close family member has had eczema, asthma, or allergies.

Eczema is not an allergic reaction to a substance, but allergens or irritants in the environment (such as pollen or cigarette smoke) can trigger it. Less frequently, it can be triggered by allergens in your child's diet or in your diet if your child is breastfeeding.

The rash can also be aggravated by heat, irritants that come in contact with the skin (like wool or the chemicals in some soaps, fragrances, lotions, and detergents), changes in temperature, and dry skin. Stress can also trigger a flare-up of eczema.

Taking good care of your child's skin and avoiding triggers can help treat and prevent flare-ups.

Bathing and moisturizing

Talk with the doctor about how often to bathe your child. Many experts now believe that daily bathing can be helpful for children with eczema. Just don't make the water too warm, because very warm water dries out the skin faster than lukewarm water.

Use a mild soap or non-soap cleanser, and wash and shampoo your child at the end of the bath so he isn't sitting in soapy water. As soon as you get your child out of the tub, pat (don't rub) excess water from his skin with a soft towel or washcloth.

Then, while the skin is still damp, promptly apply a liberal amount of moisturizer or emollient an ointment, cream, or lotion that "seals in" the body's own moisture to your child's skin. Ointments and creams contain more emollient and less water than lotions and are usually best for children with eczema.

"I recommend emollients for children of all ages," says Michael Smith, an associate professor of medicine and pediatrics in the division of dermatology at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville. He suggests testing the emollient for a short time to make sure it doesn't irritate your child's skin.

The most effective approach, according to Smith, is to hydrate and lubricate the skin at the same time by applying emollient to damp skin. The emollient won't improve the red, inflamed, itchy areas, but it will help restore the skin's invisible protective barrier. (This barrier makes up part of the normal outer layer of the skin and is impaired in kids with eczema.)

Allowing skin to breathe and stay cool

Dress your child in smooth natural fabrics, like cotton. Avoid wool and other scratchy materials, which can irritate very sensitive skin. Don't overheat your child by bundling him up more than necessary.

Soaps and cleansers

Switch to mild, fragrance-free soaps or non-soap cleansers and shampoos, or those made for sensitive skin. Use mild, fragrance-free detergent for washing clothes and bedding. Don't use fabric softeners.

Prevent scratching

Your child may try to get relief by scratching with his hands or by rubbing his face against the sheet during sleep. But scratching and rubbing can further irritate or inflame the skin and make matters much worse.

Use the softest sheets possible in the crib or bed, and keep your child's nails short. Put him to bed with cotton mittens or socks on his hands if he'll tolerate them.

If your child has a lot of trouble sleeping because of the itching, consult your doctor. He may suggest an antihistamine to help your child rest better.

Soothe flare-ups

During a flare-up, you can try applying cool compresses to the area several times a day, followed by a moisturizer.

A study published in the May 2009 issue of Pediatrics tested treatments on children with severe eczema. The kids ranged in age from 6 months to 17 years.

Researchers found that soaking for five to ten minutes twice a week in a diluted bleach bath was five times more effective at treating eczema than plain water (used by the placebo group). The improvement was so dramatic that the researchers stopped the study early to allow children in the placebo group to benefit from the method.

Amy Paller, senior author of the study and the Walter J. Hamlin professor and chair of the department of dermatology and professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, says that with their doctor's approval parents of children with moderate to severe eczema might want to try this method, especially if their child gets skin infections.

Paller recommends a scant two teaspoons of bleach per gallon of bathwater (or 1/2 cup per full tub) at least twice a week, taking these precautions: 1) Make sure your child doesn't drink the water. 2) Disperse the bleach in the water before putting your child in the tub (you don't want undiluted bleach to get on her skin).

Nashville pediatrician Smith agrees with Paller's approach. "It's safe and easy to do," he says. "It's basically like a freshly chlorinated swimming pool, which serves to kill germs in the pool. It is very useful for kids with recurrent skin infections related to eczema, but it has also been shown effective just to eliminate bacteria, making the eczema easier to treat."

Smith tells parents to use 1/3 to 1/2 cup for a full tub or 1 teaspoon per gallon. He also suggests rinsing off briefly afterward, to get rid of the bleach smell.

To avoid getting the bleach water in your child's eyes or mouth, Smith cautions not to use bleach on the face. Instead, he recommends a good barrier ointment such as petrolatum to protect the skin on the face from irritants such as saliva, food, and beverages.

For open, oozing areas on the face, he suggests over-the-counter antibiotic ointments such as bacitracin or a polymyxin/bacitracin combination. If these remedies don't work, it's time to get in touch with your child's doctor.

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Eczema Home Remedies – eMedicineHealth

Eczema (cont.) Eczema Prevention

Avoid, when possible, whatever triggers the rash.

See Self-Care at Home for other ideas on preventing eczema flares.

Atopic dermatitis usually spontaneously improves in most individuals after puberty. In a few unfortunate individuals, it becomes chronic, resulting in occasional flares often at times of very low humidity (such as wintertime with the heat on). It may also return much later in adulthood and may prove especially difficult to manage.

The role of psychological stress inducing flares of the dermatitis is poorly understood. There is no question that when the condition flares and sleep is inhibited by itching, one's normal ability to deal with emotional problems is diminished.

Repeated scratching of the rash can cause toughening of the skin. Small patches of the skin can become thickened and like leather. This condition is called lichen simplex chronicus. The scrotum and vulva are common areas for adult patients with a history of eczema to develop a persistent itch and develop such lichenification. (It would be very unusual for the penis itself to be involved in such cases and other diagnoses should be considered if it appears to be affected.)

Eczema causes skin sores and cracks that are susceptible to infection. These infections are usually very minor, but they do require treatment with antibiotics or they may become very severe. See a health-care professional if an infection is suspected.

Eczema may fade in adulthood, but people who have eczema tend to have lifelong problems with skin irritation and related problems.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/12/2015

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Eczema – KidsHealth

It can be difficult to avoid all the triggers, or irritants, that may cause or worsen eczema flare-ups. In many people, the itchy patches of eczema usually appear where the elbow bends; on the backs of the knees, ankles, and wrists; and on the face, neck, and upper chest although any part of the body can be affected.

In an eczema flare-up, skin may feel hot and itchy at first. Then, if the person scratches, the skin may become red, inflamed, or blistered. Some people who have eczema scratch their skin so much it becomes almost leathery in texture. Others find that their skin becomes extremely dry and scaly. Even though many people have eczema, the symptoms can vary quite a bit from person to person.

If you think you have eczema, your best bet is to visit your doctor, who may refer you to a dermatologist (a doctor who specializes in treating skin). Diagnosing atopic eczema can be difficult because it may be confused with other skin conditions. For example, eczema can easily be confused with a skin condition called contact dermatitis, which happens when the skin comes in contact with an irritating substance, like the perfume in a certain detergent.

In addition to a physical examination, a doctor will take your medical history by asking about any concerns and symptoms you have, your past health, your family's health, any medications you're taking, any allergies you may have, and other issues.

Your doctor can also help identify things in your environment that may be contributing to your skin irritation. For example, if you started using a new shower gel or body lotion before the symptoms appeared, mention this to your doctor because a substance in the cream or lotion might be irritating your skin.

Emotional stress can also lead to eczema flare-ups, so your doctor might also ask you about any stress you're feeling at home, school, or work.

If you're diagnosed with eczema, your doctor might:

For some people with severe eczema, ultraviolet light therapy can help clear up the condition. Newer medications that change the way the skin's immune system reacts also may help.

If eczema doesn't respond to normal treatment, your doctor might do allergy testing to see if something else is triggering the condition, especially if you have asthma or seasonal allergies.

If you're tested for food allergies, you may be given certain foods (such as eggs, milk, soy, or nuts) and observed to see if the food causes an eczema flare-up. Food allergy testing also can be done by pricking the skin with an extract of the food substance and observing the reaction. But sometimes allergy testing can be misleading because someone may have an allergic reaction to a food that is not responsible for the eczema flare-up.

If you're tested for allergy to dyes or fragrances, a patch of the substance will be placed against your skin and you'll be monitored to see if skin irritation develops.

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Eczema Guide: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options

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Eczema – Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a common chronic skin condition marked by itching, inflammation, redness and swelling of the skin. Eczema is a form of dermatitis. Eczema itself is not dangerous, and it is not contagious. Eczema is an allergic condition that is most common in babies and children and usually resolves by adulthood.

Eczema occurs when skin is more sensitive to certain substances than normal. The appearance, severity, symptoms and triggers of eczema vary between individuals. There is currently no cure for eczema, but eczema can be controlled with regular medical care and a good treatment plan. Some types of eczema can be prevented by avoiding stress, irritants, and things that cause allergic reactions.

Find a Great Allergist Near You

Eczema is generally not a serious condition, but there is a potential for complications, such as a secondary bacterial or fungal infection of the eczema rash. Seek prompt medical care if you have symptoms of eczema. Early diagnosis and treatment can help reduce your risk for complications.

What to Ask Your Doctor About Allergies

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Eczema - Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

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