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No cure for Eczema                                                                             June 2009

No cure for eczema

EczemaEczema is the name for a range of skin conditions which can affect people of all ages. It causes the skin to become itchy, reddened, and very dry. While it is most common in childhood – and a large number outgrow it by the time they reach their teenage years – it also occurs in adulthood. Latest statistics indicate that one in 12 adults has suffered from some form of eczema and the numbers are growing. Equal numbers of men and women are affected.

There are different types of eczema but the most common type is atopic eczema. The word atopic means sensitivity to allergens (an allergen is something that can cause an allergy, such as the pollen in hayfever).

The symptoms are extremely unpleasant, and in severe cases the skin can crack, can become infected; there can be weeping and bleeding, blisters and pain.

Doctors can usually diagnose eczema quite easily and they may also want to test the skin for infection.

Eczema is far more common in childhood, and if you are an adult suffering from eczema, you probably also suffered as a child, even though you may not have had an attack for years. The key is to try and identify the trigger. You may have a good idea yourself, perhaps you have always suffered from an onset of eczema when you have been around animal hair, or have used a specific detergent in your wash. Scents in soap, dust mites, pollen and occasionally even stress may be the cause.

Sometimes the doctor will offer an allergy test to see if they can pinpoint a cause.

There is no real cure for eczema but you can alleviate the conditions. Most doctors will recommend moisturising creams or ointments and you may be prescribed antibiotic creams or oral antibiotics to deal with any infection. Steroid creams are also sometimes prescribed. Other treatments can include UV light therapy, steroid bandages and sometimes antihistamines can be prescribed to reduce nighttime irritation.

It is really vital to resist scratching if you possibly can as this aggravates the skin even more.
However, whatever the treatment, by far the most important thing is to identify the trigger and also to regularly use moisturizing creams on your skin, even when the eczema episode has passed, to prevent it becoming dry.

Other types of eczema include seborrhoeic eczema and varicose eczema
Seborrhoeic eczema is thought to be due to an abnormal yeast growth and an anti-fungal cream is usually prescribed to relieve the symptoms. It usually affects adults under the age of 45.

At our age, a more common adult eczema is varicose eczema. This is caused by poor circulation in the legs and is usually worst around the ankles. As with atopic eczema, this is usually treated with hydrating creams and steroid creams.

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