Our thanks to the National Eczema Society (NES) for the information we've posted below. For more detailed information please visit their website www.eczema.org or call their freephone helpline on 0800 089 1122
Eczema: An Introduction
Eczema, or dermatitis as it is sometimes called, is a group of skin conditions which can affect all age groups. In the United Kingdom, up to one-fifth of all children of school age have eczema, along with about one in twelve of the adult population.
The severity of the disease can vary. In mild forms, the skin is dry, hot and itchy, whilst in more severe forms the skin can become broken, raw and bleeding.
Despite its prevalence in our society, poll after poll shows that public ignorance and misconceptions remain adding to the impact of the condition. It is not an outcome of poor personal hygiene nor is it contagious.
With treatment, the inflammation of eczema can be reduced, though the skin will always be sensitive to flare-ups and need extra care.
The causes of eczema are many and varied and depend on the particular type of eczema that a person has. Atopic eczema is thought to be a hereditary condition, being genetically linked. It is proposed that people with atopic eczema are sensitive to allergens in the environment which are harmless to others. In atopy, there is an excessive reaction by the immune system producing inflamed, irritated and sore skin. Associated atopic conditions include asthma and hayfever.
Other types of eczema are caused by irritants such as chemicals and detergents, allergens such as nickel, and yeast growths. In later years eczema can be caused by blood circulatory problems in the legs. The causes of certain types of eczema remain to be explained, though links with environmental factors and stress are being explored.
The first step in effective treatment of eczema is a correct diagnosis. It is very important to see a general practitioner in the first instance, who may make a referral to a specialist dermatologist for further diagnosis and treatment.
For more information, help, and support visit the National Eczema Society (NES) website www.eczema.org or call their freephone helpline on 0800 089 1122