Eczema affects people of all ages but is primarily seen in children.
If you or your child has eczema, you will already know that the condition can have a huge impact on your life which can be significantly underestimated by those who are lucky enough not to have personal experience of just what it’s like.
The word eczema comes from the Greek word “ekzein” which means “to boil”.
Eczema (also known as dermatitis) is a dry skin condition. It is a highly individual condition which varies from person to person and comes in many different forms. It is not contagious so you cannot catch it from someone else.
In mild cases of eczema the skin is dry, scaly, red and itchy. In more severe cases there may be weeping, crusting and bleeding. Constant scratching causes the skin to split and bleed and also leaves it open to infection.
Eczema affects people of all ages but is primarily seen in children. Those who “grow out” of their eczema during early childhood may see it recur again in later life.
In the UK one in five children and one in twelve adults have eczema while eczema and contact dermatitis account for 84-90% of occupational skin disease.
Atopic eczema is a genetic condition based on the interaction between a number of genes and environmental factors. In most cases there will be a family history of either eczema or one of the other ‘atopic’ conditions ie asthma or hay fever.
If you or your child has Eczema, or ‘dermatitis’, the skin becomes dry and reddened, and may also be very itchy, scaly and cracked. Eczema-prone skin does not produce as many oils and fats as normal skin, and is therefore less able to retain water. As a result, gaps form between the skin cells leading to the painful cracking and inflammation of the skin. This results in unbearable itching, sleep loss, frustration, stress and depression, which can affect the entire family, not just the sufferer.
Eczema can be a very distressing condition for new parents with babies with eczema, children and adults alike.
‘Atopic’ eczema is the most common form of eczema. Although the exact cause of eczema is unknown, research shows a combination of factors including genetics and the environment are often responsible. Atopic eczema often affects the creases of body joints, such as the backs of knees or insides of elbows.
Although there is currently no cure for eczema, with treatment the condition can usually be managed. Emollients (the medical term for creams, lotions or ointments that moisturise the skin and are unperfumed) restore moisture to extremely dry skin – this also helps prevent future outbreaks. As eczema-prone skin occurs due to a loss of moisture, therefore the most important element in managing the condition is through frequent and generous use of emollients. Emollients such as Lipikar Baume AP by La Roche-Posay help to soothe the skin, and reduce the inflammation and irritation associated with eczema. Lipikar Baume AP is a 24hr lipid-replenishing body balm with aunique anti-scratch formula to help break the vicious cycle of itching.
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