Atopic eczema is a type of dermatitis in which the sufferer has hypersensitivity (like an allergy) to a number of things. While no one knows the exact cause of this condition it is thought that heredity, environment, stress and a weakened immune system may contribute to flare ups as well as the severity.
Atopic eczema is most common in children, with 50% displaying symptoms before they are a year old and 80% before they reach the age of 5. In many cases, children who show early symptoms may outgrow the most serious symptoms before the age of 3. Many others improve by adolescence or early adulthood and a few are plagued with this condition throughout their lives.
Infants are more likely to get atopic eczema if they have a parent who has it or a parent who has hay fever, asthma or allergic conjunctivitis. Children who have any of these conditions are also more likely to develop eczema as well.
Symptoms often include patches of skin that become red, inflamed and itchy. In young children, you may also see blistering, crusting and oozing and sometimes thickened areas of skin especially if scratching has taken place over time.
The following can increase the likelihood of breakouts and make breakouts worse.
- Allergies to foods, pollen, dust mites, mold or animals
- Catching a cold or the flu
- Contact with rough materials that irritate the skin
- Dry skin
- Fragrances or dyes added to laundry products, skin lotions, shampoos and soaps.
- Feeling too cold or too hot
- Water (as it dries the skin)
Taking extra care with your or your child’s skin, changing diet and avoiding irritants and triggers often help diminish the frequency of eczema breakouts. Dressing in 100% organic cotton, using only natural skin oils and lotions that contain little water and no fragrance or dyes, keeping your home environment free of dust, and mold, and keeping your immune system as healthy as possible will help to prevent flare-ups.
Should a flare up occur keeping the area moisturized will help the skin to heal and will help reduce itching. Antihistamines may also help to reduce swelling and itching as well. Since the itching seems worse at night keeping a cool bedroom and using mitts to prevent scratching can help the condition from getting worse. If itching is painful, or unrelenting your doctor may prescribe a cortisone cream to help relieve the itching. This cream should be used sparingly and only as needed to relieve the itching. Most often once a day just before bedtime is sufficient.
Make sure when you bath you do so in lukewarm water and avoid using soap on the patches where breakouts have occurred. Pat dry and use an oil based cream immediately after bathing to keep your skin moist and help to reduce cracking. Try not to become frustrated or stressed when a break out does occur as this only makes the breakout worse.
Just remain calm and continue to take care of your health and skin and with a little TLC and luck your breakout will be short lived.