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eMed previously Babylon Health


Reviewed by Dr Claudia Pastides, 24th April 2019

Eczema is a skin condition, also known as dermatitis. It causes the skin to become itchy, dry and inflamed, causing irritation and often pain for the sufferer. The most common form of eczema is atopic eczema, which usually occurs around the hands, knees, elbows, neck and cheeks - though it’s possible for any part of the body to be affected by the condition.

Eczema is a chronic condition, and though it’s possible for the condition to clear entirely, many people will experience outbreaks throughout their lives. Proper management and treatment of eczema can lead to significant improvement. If you have eczema and would like to speak to a doctor about treatments, get in touch with our team today.

Causes of eczema

The medical community is still unsure of the exact cause of atopic eczema, but one thing has become clear: it’s not caused by one single factor. Often, those with eczema suffer from a variety of allergies (including asthma and hay fever), and triggers including hormones, the weather and even food intolerances can play a role in causing eczema to develop. Pinpointing your specific triggers and adjusting your lifestyle to avoid them as much as possible is important in reducing eczema outbreaks.

Symptoms of eczema

If you’re suffering from eczema, you may see the following symptoms:

  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Inflamed skin
  • Skin which is cracked and bleeds for no apparent reason
  • Sores surrounding the affected area

The symptoms of eczema naturally vary between individuals - some people can suffer from very mild eczema with small patches of dry skin, while others have more severe, widespread eczema and may have painful, cracked skin which can bleed and ooze.

If your eczema gets much worse, or you notice fluid leaking from the skin or a yellow crust, this may suggest an infection, especially if you feel unwell or have a temperature. If you notice these symptoms, speak to a doctor urgently.

Treatment for eczema

There’s no specific cure for atopic eczema - the best way to treat the condition is to manage the symptoms and try to pinpoint and avoid any triggers. Moisturising treatments are essential for keeping the skin supple and hydrated, and topical corticosteroids can be prescribed by doctors to reduce itching and irritation. Doctors can perform allergy tests to help you figure out which triggers are causing eczema flare-ups so you can more effectively avoid them in the future.

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.