Itchy rash? Here's TheSite's guide to dealing with eczema.

Woman with eczema on her back scratching it

Who would have thought a bit of dry skin could cause such trouble?

What is eczema?

The word eczema means ‘to boil’. It describes an inflammation of the skin that can cause dryness and intense itching. Eczema is not contagious, but it does affect up to 10% of the population. There are many types of eczema. Some are more common than others:

  • Atopic eczema is most common among young children, but in some cases the condition can last into adulthood. Symptoms include overall dryness and itchiness of the skin. Sometimes associated with allergies.
  • Seborrhoeic eczema is more common in young adults and affects oily areas of the body like the scalp, face, groin and chest.
  • Discoid eczema appears as inflamed circular patches, usually on the back of the hands or legs.
  • Contact eczema occurs when the skin is sensitive to particular substances. Exposure to soaps and detergent can cause irritant eczema, while a reaction against material such as rubber or chrome is often responsible for allergic eczema.

How to cope

  • Keep itching to a minimum with regular application of moisturising and emollient creams. This ‘traps’ water in the skin, and prevents it from drying out.
  • Topical steroids to soothe eczema flare-ups are also available on prescription, as are antibiotics for cases where the affected skin has become infected.
  • Go for natural cotton bedding and clothing, as synthetic material can aggravate eczema.
  • Stress and worry can make the condition worse. Learn to keep on top of your emotions, by talking about your feelings when they threaten to get out of hand.
  • Make sure friends and family know the facts about living with eczema. The more they understand about the condition, the easier it’ll be on you.
  • Many types of eczema actually improve with warmth and sunshine. However, those with irritated skin should take extra care in their choice of sun protection, using a lotion-based sun screen with a sun-protection factor of 15 or above.

Photo with woman with eczema on her back by Shutterstock.

Next Steps

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015