Eczema is a form of skin inflammation and is also known as atopic dermatitis. Eczema makes the skin itchy, swollen, painful, and red. It can appear as a rash (mild) or may turn into a much severe skin condition. The main aim of treating eczema is getting rid of the itching, which can make other symptoms even worse. Eczema is normally found in kids and babies, but can strike at any age.
When a child suffers from eczema, his/her body creates excess amounts of lgE antibodies. It is a genetically inherited tendency, but many children having this tendency may not suffer ever from eczema.
Also, the body also becomes more prone towards hay fever and asthma in case lgE antibodies are created in excess.
There are certain conditions or substances known as trigger factors that can trigger eczema. They include:
- Skin irritants like wool
- Dry skin
- Skin infections
- Low humidity
- Emotional stress
- Pollen, dust mites, foods, etc.
An infant who has eczema will more likely have food allergy than children of other ages.
Foods the cause allergic reactions in eczema include:
General symptoms in eczema include:
- Itching: It is the worst of all the eczema symptoms as it can upset the sufferer. It makes the sufferer to scratch the skin, thus causing further damage and increasing the possibility of infections.
- Redness: Extra blood flow via blood vessels to the area affected on the skin causes redness.
- Vesicles: Fluid filled tiny blisters just below the skin causing the skin to appear grainy.
- Bleeding of blisters when they burst by scratching or by themselves.
- Scabs or crusts formed when the fluid from the blisters dries.
- The skin appears scaly and dry.
- Eczema disturbs the pigment production sometimes, which is responsible for controlling the skin colour. This may cause pale patches on skin, which fade with time and then disappear eventually.
- Lichenification is a leather-like thick area on the skin caused by scratching.
Main aim in the treatment of eczema is to get rid of the itching totally, as it causes the sufferer to scratch and thus resulting in discomfort and worsening of other symptoms.
If the eczema is mild, then it can be handled and treated by the following steps:
- Avoid the trigger factors which cause the skin to itch and irritate.
- Use emollients like special moisturises and bath oils
- Steroids like hydrocortisone are known to lessen the inflammation that is caused by allergic reactions. Different ointments and steroid creams of different strengths are available for use on prescription.
- Eidel (Pimecrolimus) is a steroid-free, topical, anti-inflammatory cream used for treating eczema and other similar conditions. This cream is available by prescription and easily can be applied on the head, face, and near the eyes which is the area generally not recommended to apply steroid creams on.
- Coal tar and similar tar preparations have anti-eczema and anti-itching properties. You can get them in the form of gels, shampoos, and oils.
- Certain foods need to be avoided and are known as elimination diets. It is effective in some children for treating eczema. But not all the children may respond to this type of therapy.
- Itching can be relieved by antihistamines. They cause drowsiness which can help the sufferer to sleep peacefully at night even with the irritation.
- Doctors may prescribe certain medications for the treatment of eczema by supressing the sufferer’s immune system.
If the eczema is severe, UV (ultraviolet) or phototherapy treatment can be suggested by your doctor. This treatment is done by exposing the skin to controlled UV-A or/and UV-B for a few minutes, twice or thrice every week. This treatment may be continued for many months.