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patient care / conditions treatments / eczema




Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema is a condition that makes your skin red and itchy. Most common during childhood this disease can occur at any age. You will notice that your eczema tends to flare up at certain times and then appear to go away. Sometimes eczema is accompanied by asthma or hay fever. While there is no cure for this disease there are some treatments that can relieve symptoms and even prevent outbreaks. Speak to your doctor about measures you can take yourself to avoid an outbreak – such as using mild soaps or applying medicated ointments and moisturisers.

Most people with atopic dermatitis also have Staphylococcus aureus bacteria on their skin. The staph bacteria multiply rapidly when the skin barrier is broken and fluid is present on the skin. This in turn may worsen symptoms, particularly in young children.

Factors that can worsen atopic dermatitis signs and symptoms include:

  • Dry skin, which can result from long, hot baths or showers
  • Scratching, which causes further skin damage
  • Bacteria and viruses
  • Stress
  • Sweat
  • Changes in heat and humidity
  • Solvents, cleaners, soaps and detergents
  • Wool in clothing, blankets and carpets
  • Dust and pollen
  • Tobacco smoke and air pollution
  • Eggs, milk, peanuts, soybeans, fish and wheat, in infants and children

Signs and symptoms

  • Severe itching, especially at night
  • Red to brownish-gray patches, especially on the hands, feet, ankles, wrists, neck, upper chest, eyelids, inside the bend of the elbows and knees, and, in infants, the face and scalp
  • Small, raised bumps, which may leak fluid and crust over when scratched
  • Thickened, cracked, dry, scaly skin
  • Raw, sensitive, swollen skin from scratching

When to see a doctor

  • If you are unable to perform daily routines
  • If your skin is painful
  • If you suspect your skin is infected (red streaks, pus, yellow scabs)
  • If your eyes or vision seems to be affected
  • If you have fever
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