Eczema is a common skin disorder that someone can get at nearly any age. There are a wide range of symptoms for eczema, most of which include itchiness, dryness, and red patches of skin. Eczema can occur on any part of your skin, though it is more common on the face. Eczema is also called atopic dermatitis which is a long term skin disorder. It is considered chronic, so that most people who have eczema may have it more than 6 months, and many deal with the condition for their entire lives, though there are ways to treat it.

Causes of Eczema

Eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, is usually caused by a hypersensitivity reaction in the skin. This is similar to an allergic reaction that will lead to swelling and redness of the skin, looking like inflammation. It can occur all over the skin or in smaller patches. People who have eczema typically lack some of the pertinent proteins in the skin, therefore they have more sensitive skin and are susceptible to eczema and other skin conditions. Eczema is more common in infants and younger children, though teenagers and even young adults can be diagnosed with eczema as well. Those with seasonal allergies or asthma, or anyone with a family history of eczema, is also susceptible to the condition. Some things can make the eczema worse including a cold or flu, cold or dry air, allergies, contact with chemicals or irritants, rough materials like wool, dry skin, emotional stress, taking baths too often, sudden temperature changes, and some fragrances.

Symptoms of Eczema

There are a variety of symptoms of eczema, including blisters associated with crusting and oozing, ear discharge or bleeding, dry skin over the face and body with some areas of bumpy skin, raw areas of the skin from excessive scratching, skin discoloration in patches, redness or inflammation around skin blisters, and thickened skin or areas looking like leather which comes from long periods of irritation and scratching. Symptoms may appear differently depending on the age of the person, such as babies and toddlers under 2 getting skin lesions on their face scalp, feet and hands, as well as bubbling, oozing or crusting. Older children, teens and adults usually get rashes and blistering on in the inside of their knees, neck, elbows, hands, and feet.

Diagnosing Eczema

To diagnose eczema, the first step is a physical examination followed by a skin biopsy which rules out other conditions causing the dry and itchy skin. The diagnosis for eczema is based on the physical examination, appearance of the skin, skin biopsy, personal history and family history. Allergy skin testing is also commonly done for those with eczema that is hard to treat, skin rashes, or other allergy symptoms.

Treating Eczema

Treatment for eczema usually include medications and a change in lifestyle habits. This includes relieving the itch from the skin condition with a topical steroid cream, prescribed topical cream, or a moisturizer that does not contain skin irritants like fragrances. You should use a humidifier and keep your skin moistened.

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