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Eczema (Dermatitis)

 

Eczema, also known as dermatitis, is common in children and adults. It can affect anywhere on the skin, from the scalp to the toes.

Eczema is red, dry, flaky, peeling skin that is itchy. If it becomes infected from repeated scratching, the skin can become wet and crusty.

Common types of eczema are as follows

  • Atopic eczema
    • This is a genetic tendency to have dry, itchy, red skin that easily becomes infected. A person or family member with atopic eczema may also have asthma, allergic rhinitis (sinusitis) and allergic conjunctivitis.

 

  • Irritant contact dermatitis
    • Often due to frequent contact with water and chemicals that can cause the skin to dry out and become red and itchy, eg. Washing hands many times a day.

 

  • Allergic contact dermatitis
    • This is a true allergy to chemicals and a patch test can help detect the source.

If you are prone to eczema, the following may help relieve your skin and prevent flares.

  •  Stay in a cool, shaded area. Avoid hot, humid, dusty environments
  •  Do not do strenuous exercise especially when the eczema flares
  •  Wear loose, cotton clothing.
  •  Avoid frequent contact with chemicals and hot water. They irritate and dry the skin. Mild soaps and soap substitutes are recommended.
  •  Avoid smoking.
  •  Minimize scratching.

In addition, your doctor will prescribe medicated creams, lotions or ointments best suited for you. Moisturisers are a must and are to be used even after the eczema has settled. If necessary, antibiotics, anti-itch tablets or other oral medications will given as indicated.

Eczema is often likely to recur even many months later, so it is best to understand your skin. Know what aggravates it and avoid the flare factors. Be aware of what makes it better and instill it in your daily regime. Know your medications and be vigilant with the treatment plan. Your doctor will help and advise if you are unsure.