Eczema is a chronic skin disorder that involves inflammed, scaly and itchy rashes. Eczema looks different on every individual but it is mostly distinguished with its redness, dryness and the itchy patches on the skin. It comes from a Greek word, which means “to boil” over”.
Cases of eczema in Singapore is one of the highest in Asia. Its symptoms include redness and dryness, and this mostly affects different areas of the body, depending on some factors like age. People with eczema tend to possess a reduced layer of skin lipid barrier, as well as an increased water loss, which leads to dry skin.
Where Does Eczema Occur?
This skin condition can appear in any part of the body but infants generally have them on cheeks, scalp, neck, legs, forearms and foreheads. On the other hand, children and adults may have these itchy patches on the face, neck, elbows, behind the knees and ankles. For some, these patches may appear more scale-like, redder and drier caused from chronic scratching due to the thickening of the skin.
What Causes or Triggers Eczema?
Eczema can run in the family, and those with asthma or allergies to food may suffer further eczema deterioration. There are other reasons that trigger the itch on eczema patients such as the hot weather, sweating, certain detergents and soaps.
Moreover, there are certain foods that trigger symptoms, including nuts and dairy products. Also, environmental factors such as smoke, pollen, fragrances, and soaps trigger eczema. Some people outgrow the condition, while other sufferers continue to endure it throughout adulthood.
Each person’s cause of flare-up is different and some get itchy due to dust mites, animal saliva’s and even stress.
How Can Eczema be Treated?
There is no exact cure for eczema but this skin condition is not known to be contagious. More so, the condition can be persistent, and one needs to undergo months or years of treatment to control it. Nevertheless, signs and symptoms, such as flare, may come back despite the treatment’s success. For better outcomes of possible treatment, it’s crucial to recognize the condition as early as possible.
Eczema can be minimized with simple preventive measures such as moisturizing more often, avoid overheating and sweating by not being in humid weather for too long, reducing stress, avoiding harsh materials and solvents, and staying away from food that may trigger a break-out.
When it comes to moisturizing the skin, self-care measures recommend doing so at least twice a day. You may use bath oils, sprays, creams, and ointments, but note that ointments become glossy and may sting less when you apply them.
Eczema patients should keep the affected areas moist at all times by applying lotions or creams, ideally right after a bath, so that the creams can be easily absorbed into the body. Another method to relieve the itchiness is to apply cold compressors.
What Medications Can One Take or Apply to Relieve Eczema?
Corticosteroid ointments can be used to reduce inflammation as well, however, these ointments may have side effects such as skin thinning and therefore the cream should not be applied too frequently at the very same location.
Eczema may sometimes lead to an infection and in such situations, the patient is prescribed oral or topical antibiotics for a short time in treating the infected area. Moreover, the doctor may also prescribe an antibiotic cream for a bacterial infection, open wound, and cracks.
Sometimes anti-histamines are used to reduce the itches, although, this may cause drowsiness. Other treatments include tar treatments and phototherapy which can be tedious and messy.
The National Skin Centre in Singapore notes that the commonly prescribed treatments for eczema are moisturizers and topical steroids. More so, the centre had indicated that non-steroid topical medications are made available for treating eczema. For severe cases, treatments used include phototherapy and systemic immunomodulators.
Lately, the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, approved a new option for treating severe eczema. This involves a new, injectable monoclonal antibody known as dupilumab or Dipluxent. This medication is utilized for patients who do not respond well to treatment options. Although this expensive option is a new type of medication, studies have proven its safety, given that it is responsibly used as directed.
A: Although there is no single test to diagnose eczema, a competent physician is able to accurately diagnose eczema by considering the medical history of the patient, followed by an examination of a patient's skin. Taking a blood or skin sample from the patient is rarely needed to rule out other causes of dermatitis.
A: Usually, physicians would prescribe topical steroids to manage the acute flares that accompany dermatitis. Other anti-inflammatory oral medications are required for short-term control, and sometimes UV light exposures help manage serious persevering cases.
A: Although one of the predispositions to eczema is through inheritance from one’s parents, a person cannot be affected by eczema through skin contact or through any other kind of transmission from one person to another.