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Category Archives: Eczema
What is eczema?
Eczema is a general term for rash-like skin conditions. The most common type of eczema is called atopic dermatitis, which is an allergic reaction. Eczema is often very itchy and when you scratch it, the skin becomes red and inflamed. Eczema affects adults and children, but it is most common in babies.
Atopic dermatitis is a chronic skin condition. "Atopic" describes an inherited tendency to develop dermatitis, asthma and hay fever. "Dermatitis" means that the skin is red and itchy.
Atopic dermatitis usually starts during infancy and continues into childhood. There are times when the condition gets worse (called flare-ups). Flare-ups are followed by times when the skin will heal and there may be no signs of atopic dermatitis (called remission). Remission can last for weeks, months or even years. Some children will outgrow atopic dermatitis, and others will still have it when they are adults. Flare-ups in adults tend to be less severe.
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Eczema and Atopic Dermatitis | Overview - FamilyDoctor.org
What is eczema?
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.
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.
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.
Dr. P. Marazzi / Science Source
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.
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.
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.
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Eczema in children | BabyCenter
What Is Allergic Eczema?
When your body comes in contact with something that could make you ill, your immune system promotes chemical changes to help your body ward off disease. You are exposed to thousands of substances each day, and most will not cause your immune system to react. However, you may come into contact with substances that are not typically harmful to the body but cause your immune system to overreact nonetheless. These substances are known as allergens, and this overreaction is known as an allergy.
Have a board certified dermatologist examine your skin problem
An allergic reaction can take a number of forms. For some people, breathing becomes difficult, they cough, and they experience burning eyes and a runny nose. Other allergic reactions cause changes in the skin. Allergic eczema is an itchy skin rash that develops when you come into contact with an allergen. The condition often occurs hours after you have been exposed to the substance that causes the allergic reaction.
Allergic eczema is also known as:
Allergic eczema occurs when you come into direct contact with an allergen. This type of allergic reaction is known as delayed allergy because it can take several exposures to the allergen to cause a reaction. Also, the symptoms of allergic eczema may not develop for 24 to 48 hours after you have come in contact with the allergen.
Although allergic eczema can develop because of an immune response to any substance, some common triggers include:
Allergic eczema may also result when the skin is exposed to chemicals in the presence of sunlight. One example is an allergic reaction that occurs after using sunscreen and spending time in the sun.
The symptoms of allergic eczema will be different for each person. They may also change over time. Symptoms typically develop on the skin where contact with the allergen has occurred. In rare cases, symptoms may spread to other areas of the skin.
Common symptoms include:
If you have symptoms of this disorder, your doctor will examine your skin. Although your doctor may be able to diagnose an allergic reaction, he or she may need to do further testing to determine exactly what you are allergic to. Typically an epicutaneous (on surface of the skin) or patch test will be required.
During this test, patches that contain common allergens are placed on your back. These patches remain in place for 48 hours. When your doctor removes the patches, he or she will check for signs of an allergic reaction. Your doctor will check your skin again in two more days to see if there is a delayed allergic reaction.
If your doctor is not able to make a diagnosis based on the patch test, other tests may be needed. Your doctor may perform a skin lesion biopsy (taking a sample of your skin for laboratory testing) to make sure that your skin condition is not due to another health problem.
Treatment for allergic eczema depends on the severity of your symptoms. In all cases, it is important to wash the affected skin with plenty of water to remove traces of the allergen.
If your symptoms are mild and do not bother you, no further treatment may be needed. You may wish to use a moisturizing cream to keep the skin hydrated and to repair damage. Over-the-counter corticosteroid creams can help with itching and inflammation.
If your symptoms are severe, your doctor may recommend prescription-strength ointments or creams. Corticosteroid pills or a shot can also be prescribed if needed.
With treatment, you can expect allergic eczema to clear up within two to three weeks. However, the condition may return if you are exposed to the allergen again. Identifying the allergen that caused your eczema and taking steps to avoid it are critical to preventing future reactions.
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Allergic Eczema: Causes, Symptoms & Diagnosis
Eczema is a chronic skin condition marked by itching, inflammation, redness, and swelling of the skin. Eczema is one type of dermatitis and is a general term that includes a variety of types of eczema, including atopic eczema, allergic contact eczema, dyshidrotic eczema, and seborrheic eczema.
Eczema occurs when skin is more sensitive to certain substances than normal. This often occurs in patches and may appear as rashes that come and go and may disappear altogether. The exact cause of eczema is unknown, but it is linked to allergies and an abnormal response of the immune system. Exposure to triggers, such as stress, allergens, and skin irritants, precipitate a flare-up of eczema in sensitive people.
Eczema is a common condition, affecting about 10 percent to 20 percent of the world's population, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The appearance, severity, symptoms, and triggers of eczema vary between individuals. Eczema does though frequently occur and reoccur during infancy and childhood and may resolve in adulthood. People who are more likely to develop eczema include those with a personal or family history of allergies, allergic rhinitis or asthma.
Symptoms of eczema can include itching followed by the development of a rash or patch of inflamed skin and more severe itching. For more information on symptoms, refer to symptoms of eczema.
Uncomplicated eczema is generally not a serious condition, but itching and scratching can lead to increased inflammation, open breaks in the skin, and a secondary bacterial infection or fungal infection of the surrounding skin and tissues. This is called cellulitis and can be potentially serious.
A diagnosis of eczema can often be made by taking a thorough health history, including symptoms, and performing a physical exam. For some people, skin patch testing may be performed. In a patch test, small amounts of common allergens are applied methodically to the skin to determine what substances are triggering an allergic response, leading to the eczema.
Because the symptoms of eczema may be similar to other skin conditions, such as psoriasis, hives, or pityriasis rosea, a misdiagnosis is possible. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of eczema.
There is currently no cure for eczema, but the condition can be controlled with a good treatment plan individualized to a person's medical history, specific type and severity of eczema, and other factors.
Treatment begins with the prevention of flare-ups. This includes an integrated plan to reduce exposure to irritants and allergens and minimize skin dryness. A variety of topical and oral medications may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and cure secondary infections. Another type of treatment that may be effective for some people with eczema is phototherapy.
A combination of treatments that include lifestyle changes with medications and other treatments as appropriate is the most effective way to best control eczema. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of eczema. ...more
Eczema: Eczema is a chronic skin condition characterized by skin inflammation and irritation. The severity of extent of the condition is highly variable. It may be caused by allergies, irritants or other factors such as stress. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Eczema is available below.
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