On day one of #NationalEczemaWeek, we thought it would be useful to provide an insight into this condition – what it is, who it affects and how to recognise it.
What is eczema?
Eczema is a condition that causes the skin to become inflamed or irritated and there are a number of different types, including atopic, allergic contact, irritant contact, discoid (circular patches) and seborrheic.
Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema, atopic referring to the fact that it is an inherited tendency with a link to asthma or hay fever. If one or both parents have eczema it is more likely that their children will develop it and around one third of children with atopic eczema will also develop asthma and/or hay fever.
Eczema affects one in five children in the UK at some stage, although it often develops in babies before their first birthday. It may also appear during adulthood and affects 3-5% of adults in the UK. There has been a large increase in incidence over the past few decades.
It's usually a long-term (chronic) condition, although it can improve significantly, or even clear completely, in some children as they get older.
The symptoms of eczema include the following:
· Rash – often on face, scalp, insides of elbows, wrists, hands, feet or back of knees
· Dry, cracked, thickened, scaly skin
· Redness of affected areas of skin
· Lumps or blisters in affected areas
· Weeping or crusty areas
· Bleeding due to excessive scratching
People with atopic eczema usually have periods when symptoms are less noticeable, as well as ‘flare-ups’ when symptoms are more severe.