Eczema and Dermatitis
The terms eczema and dermatitis basically refers to inflammation of the skin.
Eczema is one of the commonest causes of dry and sensitive skin regardless of age group. It causes red and itchy skin and it affects up to 10% of people at some time in their lives. Without proper assessment and treatment, it can cause a lot of psychological and social distress.
There are two main types of eczema:
1. Atopic eczema
Atopic eczema usually starts in early childhood. Approximately 2 in 3 people with atopic eczema eventually grow out of it by their mid-teens. Various parts of the skin may become inflamed and may flare up with itchiness and redness from time to time. People with atopic eczema have an increased chance of developing other atopic conditions such as hay fever and asthma.
.2. Contact dermatitis
Contact dermatitis happens when the skin comes in contact with a substance that your body dislikes. It triggers an inflammation of the skin, causing redness, itchiness and swelling.
What triggers an eczema?
Most people with atopic eczema may flare up intermittently with no reason. Sometimes it may be triggered or made worse by some irritants to the skin. Other factors such as anxiety, stress, sleep deprivation and travelling may also trigger an eczema flare.
Common skin irritants include detergents, perfumes, clothing, change in temperature, and other skin infections such as fungal infection. Pets, house dust mites, and some food such as eggs and nuts may also trigger an eczema.
What are the treatments available?
.1) Topical Moisturisers
Eczema makes your skin really dry. Dry skin flares up more often. This creates a vicious circle.
Moisturisers or emollients are creams, lotions or ointments that can prevent the skin from becoming dry. This helps to prevent itch and to reduce eczema flare-ups. The daily use of moisturiser is the most important part of the treatment for eczema.
2) Topical steroids
Topical steroid creams work by reducing skin inflammation. It is very useful for treatment of eczema flare. They come in different types and concentration. They are usually given together with a moisturiser. Prolonged use of topical steroids may cause some side effects. Therefore, it is important to see a doctor for an assessment so the appropriate type of topical steroid can be prescribed to you.
3) Oral medication
Oral medications that can be used to alleviate eczema are antihistamines, oral antibiotics and oral steroids.
Oral antihistamines help reduce the itchiness and redness of the skin.
Oral antibiotics are required if the eczema area is infected.
Oral steroids are only given in severe eczema which does not respond well to topical steroids.
With the right treatment, eczema or dermatitis can be put under control.
If you suffer from eczema, see a doctor to get treated appropriately because poorly managed eczema will lead to scarring and pigmentation.