What is eczema?
Eczema is a common inflammatory itchy condition of the skin. It is due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Many people with eczema have a family history or other problems like asthma or rhinitis. Certain environmental factors can trigger or worsen eczema such as heat, sweating, dry weather, stress and sometimes certain foods.
There are different types of eczema. Atopic eczema is the commonest and typically affects the folds of the body, the face and neck. Seborrhoeic dematitis typically affects the scalp, eyebrows, sides of the nose and ears. Discoid ecema looks like oozy coin shaped patches and are often on the arms and legs. Hand and feet eczema may appear as scaly patches or small blisters on the fingers and toes.
What is the treatment for eczema?
Eczema may be difficult to cure but it can be effectively controlled in many people. The treatment involves avoiding any environmental triggers, relief of itch and inflammation, treating any infection and moisturising the skin.
Topical medication include topical steroids, topical calcineurin inhibitors (e.g. tacrolimus, pimecolimus) and moisturisers.
Systemic medication include antibiotics, antihistamines, oral steroids, immunosuppressants (e.g. methotrexate, cyclosporin), biologics (e.g. dupilumab) and Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors (e.g. upadacitinib, abrocitinib).
Your dermatologist will counsel you on the skin care and types of medication required. Often, the medication is reduced or changed to a weaker strength as the eczema improves. Some children outgrow their eczema as they grow older.