Eczema- or atopic dermatitis – is a chronic skin condition that usually starts when you’re a newborn and lasts for several years, although some people have it forever.
It causes your skin to become itchy, red, dry and sometimes even blistery. You can find it on all parts of your body if you have it.
Although there is no cure, there are a lot of treatment options. Here’s everything you need to know about eczema.
What causes eczema?
The exact cause of eczema is still a mystery, but doctors and researchers believe it’s caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
You are more likely to suffer from eczema if one or both of your parents have it, and you’re also more likely to have eczema if your mother or father has another type of atopic (immune system) disease.
We know that genetics play a role in contracting the disease, but there are a lot of environmental factors that cause eczema symptoms, including:
- Certain soaps, detergents, shampoos, cleaning products, fresh fruit juices, some meats, or even some vegetables
- Allergens, like dust mites, pets, pollens, mold or dandruff
- Viruses, fungi and certain kinds of bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus.
- Extreme temperatures – very hot or very cold weather, as well as very high or very low humidity
- Sweating from exercise or overexertion
- Some foods, such as milk, cheese and eggs, nuts and seeds, soy products and wheat
- For women, hormones can affect eczema symptoms, particularly when they are pregnant, on their period or going through menopause.
What are the symptoms of eczema?
When eczema flares up, the symptoms can vary depending on the severity of your condition and your age.
Most of the time, people who have eczema will go through periods of flare-ups, followed by a period of time when their symptoms are lessened or nonexistent.
In infants, these symptoms include:
- Rashes on scalp and cheek
- Rashes that typically bubble up and then ooze fluid.
- Rashes that itch so much it can affect the baby’s sleep or cause skin infections from incessant scratching.
For children who are 2 years old until puberty, eczema symptoms could include the following:
- Rashes often found behind their elbows or knees, as well as their necks, wrists, ankles, and the creases between their buttocks and legs.
Those symptoms can evolve over time and become the following:
- Bumpy rashes, akin to goosebumps
- Rashes that get lighter or darker
- Rashes that become thicker and develop into knots and lead to “permanent itch.”
In adults, the rashes occur in the following places and can cause more scaly and drier skin, which causes skin infections:
- The creases of elbows or knees or nape of the neck, or around the eyes and face
- All over the body.
Even if you had eczema as a child and no longer have it as an adult, your skin is still more susceptible to irritation, and you can still develop eczema on your hands and eyes.
If you think you might have symptoms of eczema, contact your doctor or stop by an Urgent Care clinic today.