What is eczema?

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Eczema – Coming from Greek phrase “to bubble” or “to boil over”.

Eczema, also called ‘atopic dermatitis’, is a chronic skin condition characterised by inflamed, dry, and itchy skin which can have periods of acute flare ups. It’s one of three diseases that form the Atopic Triad; eczema, asthma, and allergic rhinitis are linked diseases which some people are genetically predisposed to develop. Eczema is not an allergy, however, it’s common for children that develop eczema to also have food allergies.

NOTE: Eczema is not a contagious disease. It’s not something that can be caught from touching, playing with, or bathing with someone that has eczema.

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Eczema – Cause factors

Eczema can be maddening for those that suffer from it. Skin starts off becoming swollen, red, and bumpy. The skin becomes itchy, often intensely so, and sufferers can rub the skin raw simply because the pain is easier to tolerate than the itch. The skin can also feel hot and painful. Little water blisters can appear that will burst and weep easily if scratched. It’s important not to scratch as this will damage the skin further (easier said than done, especially for young kids!).

Skin will bleed easily because of the inflammation and scratching damages the skin cells resulting in additional blood and immune cells rushing to the area.

It’s also common for areas of skin where eczema frequently flares up to become rough, scaly, chapped, and cracked. This is because dead skin cells are shed and replaced at a faster rate than healthy skin; these dead cells often sit on the skin. These areas of skin also lose moisture more easily and as it escapes the skin dries out and cracks form.

It’s important to discuss treatment options with a medical professional; eczema requires on-going management and care for the skin.

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Eczema – painful inflammation cycle

Key source: “Eczema: The Essential Guide” by Sharon Dempsey

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