Eczema

About

Eczema is sometimes referred to as atopic dermatitis. It affects the upper layer of the skin and typically appears during early childhood. For many, it clears up before adulthood. However, some people live with it for life. Common symptoms include:

  • Itchy rash
  • Dry skin
  • Redness
  • Inflammation

Constant scratching can cause the skin to crack, leaving it vulnerable to infection. Some people have eczema symptoms every once in a while, while others have it almost constantly.

With proper advice and treatment, people can manage eczema and minimize its physical and social discomfort.

Causes

Eczema is a genetic skin condition. Allergic reactions to chemicals, metals, plants, or even soaps and detergents can trigger, or worsen, eczema. Eczema can also worsen if skin becomes infected with a bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus. Stress and weather change are other common triggers.

Treatment

Avoiding irritants and excessive heat, as well as using emollients to moisturize the skin, are key to minimizing eczema symptoms. Common treatments include:

  • Topical corticosteroids
  • Calcineurin-inhibitors
  • Topical combination of corticosteroid and an antibiotic, if the eczema is infected with bacteria
  • Light therapy or systemic treatment (tablets, injections, infusions) in very severe cases

Talk to your doctor to learn more about treatment options.

To learn more about eczema, visit the Eczema Society of Canada.