Eczema (also called atopic dermatitis) is a skin condition where patches of skin become inflamed and irritated, red and itchy. It is most common among children but can occur at any age. It is often accompanied by asthma and hay fever.
While there is no cure for eczema, there are treatments and self-care measures that you can take in order to relieve the itching and prevent new outbreaks from happening.
Eczema often begins before age 5 and may persist into adulthood. It usually flares up periodically and then clears up for extended periods, up to several years.
Symptoms of Eczema
- Dry Skin
- Itching, which can be severe, especially at night
- Thick, cracked and scaly skin
- Raw, sensitive skin from scratching
- Red to brownish grey patches
- Small, raised bumps which may leak fluid and crust over when scratched
How Do You Prevent Eczema
The following tips will help prevent eczema outbreaks:
- Moisturizing your skin at least twice a day: It is very important that you moisturize your skin so that it stays hydrated. You can choose from creams, ointments and lotions, all of which seals moisture in your skin. Experiment with products in order to find what best works for you.
- Try to identify triggers for flare-ups: There are a number of things that could trigger eczema outbreaks, such as sweat, stress, soaps, detergents, dust, and pollen, among many others. Reduce your exposure to triggers.
- Take shorter baths and showers: Try to limit your shower time between 10-15 minutes, and only use warm (not hot) water.
- Take a bleach bath: a diluted bleach bath will decrease bacteria on your skin and related infections. Add half a cup (118 mL) of household bleach (not concentrated) to a 40-gallon bathtub filled with warm water. Soak from the neck down or just the affected skin areas for about 10 minutes. Do not submerge the head. Use once or twice a week, no more.
- Use gentle soaps: Using soaps specifically made for sensitive skin, will ensure that your skin is not stripped of its natural oils. You should avoid deodorant soaps and antibacterial soaps, which can dry your skin.
- Dry yourself carefully after bathing: use a soft towel to pat your skin dry and apply moisturizer right away.
When Should You See a Doctor?
You should see a doctor if:
- The condition is affecting sleep or disrupting any of your daily activities
- You have a skin infection (red streaks, puss, or yellow scabs)
- Continue to have bothersome symptoms despite your attempts to combat it