Eczema Information, Tips, & Treatment













About Eczema



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eczema is a skin allergy condition characterized by itching and a red rash. This disease affects about seven per one thousand people in the United States, with 90% of the cases appearing in children between the ages of two months and five years. In about half the cases involving children, this condition clears up by 18 months of age.

People sometimes use the terms dermatitis and eczema interchangeably. However, the condition is actually dermatitis that is in advanced, more serious stages, with symptoms such as blisters, scabbing, oozing, and discoloration.


There are two main forms of this skin condition: eczematous, which is caused by external factors; and endogenous, which occurs without a known outside cause. We will focus on the endogenous form, which involves a chronic itching and inflammation of the skin; primarily the epidermis or outer layer. There are several common sites on the body where this condition usually appear:

• face

• side of the neck

• inside of the elbow

• wrist

• back of the knee

• ankle



Causes



There is an association between eczema and allergies, and evidence suggests that the tendency to develop this type of skin allergy is inherited. Most people who contract this disease will also develop other allergic conditions. Between fifty and eighty percent of young people with the atopic type will go on to develop allergic rhinitis or asthma. Also, when patients undergo skin tests for allergies, their tests are usually positive, showing elevated IgE antibodies in a large number of cases.

In cases of this skin condition where children are under three years of age, it has been found that in about 33% of the cases, the child was found to be allergic to eggs, milk, and wheat. In children over the age of seven, 50% of patients had a food allergy that triggered their outbreak. Regarding cases involving the younger children, the condition has been found to start after a baby is weaned from breast milk, so doctors will sometimes recommend switching from cow’s milk to soy milk. Controlling house dust mites and limiting the amount of pets in the home can help as well.

Even though the exact cause of this condition is not known, we do know that certain situations can cause episodes of the disease. The situations and substances that can cause episodes of this condition include:

• heat

• perspiration

• pollen

• cold air

• dry skin

• stress

• food

• dust mites

• animal dander

• skin infection





Treatment



Conventional allergy therapy has had little positive effect in treating eczema. Therefore, The major focus in treatment is providing patients with relief from symptoms. Doctors usually prescribe some of the following:

• antihistamines to suppress itching and reduce scratching

• corticosteroids applied to the skin

• moisturizing agents

• antibiotics for secondary infections

• non-alkaline cleansers (instead of soap, which dries the skin)



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References

American College of Physicians. Common Allergies. New York, NY: Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2000.

Cook, Allan. Skin Disorders Sourcebook. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, Inc., 1997.

Krohn, Jacqueline. Allergy Relief & Prevention. Vancouver, B.C. : Hartley & Marks Publishers Inc., 2000.

Kwong, Frank & Cook, Bruce. The Complete Allergy Book. Naperville, Illinois: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2002.

Lipkowitz, Myron & Navarra, Tova. Allergies A-Z. New York, NY: Facts On File, Inc., 1994.

Reader’s Digest. The Allergy Bible. Pleasantville, NY: The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., 2001.

Reader’s Digest. Fighting Allergies. Pleasantville, NY: The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., 2000.

Ross, Linda. Allergies Sourcebook. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, Inc., 1997.

Turkington, Carol & Dover, Jeffrey. Skin Deep. New York, NY: Facts On File, Inc., 1996.

Young, Stuart, Dobozin, Bruce, & Miner, Margaret. Allergies: The Complete Guide to Diagnosis, Treatment, and Daily Management. Yonkers, NY: Consumer Reports Books, 1991.