Eczema is a term used for a group of skin conditions that cause skin to become dry, red, itchy and inflamed. It is most often linked to atopic dermatitis. It is a very common and non-contagious skin condition that affects 1 in 5 children and can affect 1 in 12 adults in Ireland.
What are the symptoms of Eczema?
Eczema most commonly forms in the first few months after birth. However, some adults may experience it for the first time later in life. The main symptom of eczema is itchy, irritable skin. Most sufferers find this itch to be so severe that it can interrupt sleep leading to tiredness and irritability. The severity of eczema differs from individual to individual and symptoms can also change as an individual gets older.
Eczema is generally caused due to a defect in the skin barrier and trigger factors. These triggers could be irritants such as chemicals, the weather, detergents, fragrances and even clothing fabric. Common foods such as cow’s milk, eggs, chicken and nuts can also cause skin irritation in sufferers. Outbreaks can also be triggered by emotional stress and a low immune system.
How to manage your flare ups?
It’s important for individuals who have eczema to keep their skin moisturised on a daily basis using emollients and lotions. These help to protect the skin barrier and prevent further dryness. Depending on the severity of your eczema it may also be necessary to:
- Use a topical steroid ointment – These come in different strengths so it is up to your doctor to prescribe you with an ointment that is suitable for your symptoms.
- Use wet wraps – Wet wrap therapy involves wrapping wet bandages around the affected areas. Doing so helps the cream soak into the skin and stop the urge to scratch your skin.
- Phototherapy – This form of light therapy may be used when topical and oral treatments are not improving symptoms. It involves the control of the rate at which skin cells develop. With this form of therapy, it is possible to prevent scaling of skin within the affected areas.
- Antibiotics – Oral and topical antibiotics may be used for cases where skin infections occur at the site of a flare up. For those that don’t response well to the use of topical ointments, doctors may prescribe them oral treatments and antibiotics to soothe symptoms.
The Irish Skin Foundation have released a handy, downloadable booklet that provides you with all the information you need for learning how to manage and deal with your eczema on a daily basis and gives you tips on how and when to apply treatments. You can download the booklet here.
Here at Conefrey’s Pharmacy, we stock a range of skin care products that are designed to help those who are experiencing symptoms such as dryness or irritability such as SEQuaderma. If you or a family member have eczema, call in store and we will be more than willing to help you find a lotion suited for you.