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Eczema is the medical term for a skin disorders which can cause irritation, inflammation, weeping of skin, dryness and skin rashes. Also known as dermatitis (inflammation of the skin), eczema affects numerous people at any time in life and can arise anywhere on the body. A variety of eczema types exist, they include, Atopic dermatitis, Contact dermatitis, Nummular eczema, Dyshidrotic eczema and Seborrheic dermatitis. There are no cures for eczema, though a number of treatments and approaches can help minimise the symptoms.

The two main forms of eczema are Atopic dermatitis and Contact dermatitis. The most common type, Atopic eczema is when there is a inherited or genetic connection to the development of the condition. It causes an itchy rash that is sometimes dry in appearance, which can appear anywhere on the skin including inside the folds/bends of joints. Usually more common in children than in adults, it can cause severe itching resulting in a spread of the rash. Contact dermatitis comes in two types. It can be an allergic reaction to an allergen, which comes into contact with the skin, such as antibiotic creams, perfumes etc. The second type of Contact dermatitis involves irritants coming into contact with skin, chemicals like, bleaches, soaps and detergents.

What can cause eczema?
Specific conditions that cause eczema are difficult to identify, though a weakness in the body’s immune system may be one of them. The substances and episodes that are seen as causes, are in fact triggers. Some of the known triggers have already been mentioned and include:

Genetics – The likelihood of eczema occurring increases if it is common in an individuals family.
Allergies - Allergens come in the form of, dust mites, perfumes, creams, particular foods
Environment - Cold weather, humidity and heat, man made materials such as fibreglass.
Stress - Though stress may not cause eczema, skin conditions seem to worsen when a person is stressed

Following a programme of self treatment begins by avoiding the substances and irritants which antagonise your skin. It is also advised to keep you skin well moisturised. A variety of eczema treatments and products such as creams, ointments and bath oils are available from the chemist and help replenish and hydrate the skin and its natural protective oils. If you are suffering from strong strain of eczema your GP can prescribe steroid creams/tablets, antibiotics or antihistamine tablets/medicine. Always avoid scratching the skin, if this may give short-term relief but irritates the skin further, if you have to just rub the area gently with the palm of your hand. People who have food allergies can find that particular foods may set-off eczema, it is advised to contact your GP or dermatologist before excluding any important foods from your diet. Eczema sufferers have found alternative treatments like homeopathy, can significantly help ease and reduce their symptoms.

If your condition is not improving through treatment it may be possible that the skin disorder is not eczema. Other skin conditions like fungal infections and scabies can have similar symptoms to eczema.



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