The Canadian Dermatology Association provides insight on the signs and symptoms of eczema — a skin condition that affects up to 20 percent of Canadians.
Approximately 15 to 20 percent of Canadians suffer from eczema, and around 17 percent are diagnosed with its most common type, atopic dermatitis (AD). AD is a hereditary skin condition and is often linked to asthma or hay fever. While most cases of AD occur before the age of five, some experience their first outbreak in adulthood, which is known as adult-onset atopic eczema.
The other common form of eczema is known as contact dermatitis, and it comes in two forms: allergic and irritant. Allergic is caused by a delayed immune reaction, whereas irritant is caused by repeated exposure to substances that damage the skin.
The cause of eczema is unclear — patients either develop or are born with an impaired skin barrier function, which means they’re more susceptible to external allergens and bacteria. Again, there are a variety of genetic, environmental, and immune factors at play.
Signs and symptoms of eczema
Patients with eczema exhibit dry skin and inflammation. Inflamed or eczematous skin is red, itchy, swollen, and sometimes with fluid-filled bumps that ooze and crust. Whatever the state, eczema is not contagious. Flare-ups may occur in different areas of the body based on one’s age. For instance, babies tend to experience eczema on their scalp and face, whereas adolescents tend to have flare-ups in the crooks of the knees and elbows. In addition, everyone, adults included, may also find patches on their ankles, wrists, neck, and hands.
Common causes of eczema
Common causes of eczema include an allergic reaction to something touching the skin, such as poison ivy or nickel, or contact with chemicals that damage the outer skin, such as strong soaps and substances that dry or irritate the skin.
Eczema is a common problem, but it’s not contagious. Some types are hereditary. While some children outgrow the condition, eczema cannot be cured. A dermatologist can provide a proper diagnosis and a treatment plan to manage eczema and control its flare-ups.
Eczema treatment is important because it can prevent the skin condition from getting worse and relieve pain and itching. Proper treatment can also reduce stress, prevent infections and skin thickening, which can lead to constant itching.
Most types of eczema require a combination of treatments and medications. Certified dermatologists choose treatments that work the best to control the condition.
The skin is the body’s largest organ, and as such, it’s important to protect and take care of it, regardless of genetics or skin condition. In some circumstances, like those noted above, the skin requires a little extra care. Book regular appointments with a certified dermatologist to treat conditions such as eczema to minimize discomfort and damage to the skin.