When things go beyond the normal dry or itchy skin that most of us experience at one time or another, you might well be suffering from a condition called Eczema.

The most well-known and widely found Eczema is the atopic variety which in its severest cases can cause redness, cracking of the skin and even bleeding.

Atopic eczema is a long-term condition and affects any part of the body but is most often seen on the hands, the elbows, back of the knees and on the scalp. The symptoms can come and go for no real reason but there are key factors that can cause an outbreak including suffering from an illness or when under stress.

What Causes Eczema?

The problem is that no one really knows and a good deal of research still needs to be done to discover the underlying causes. It’s a condition that can occur in people who are suffer from allergies such as hay fever or are sensitive to particular products. There can also be a genetic component which means it can be passed on through family links. Pregnant women often find they get outbreaks of eczema. There may well be certain triggers such as detergents or other household products and skin lotions that contain certain chemicals. Even the food we eat can make a difference and cause some people to suffer an attack.

Other Types Eczema

There are several different types of eczema which are less prevalent but no less irritating, including:

  • Contact dermatitis: Something that is caused by coming into contact with a certain substance.
  • Varicose Eczema: This occurs around the lower legs and is caused by a poor blood supply – something that often affects older people.
  • Dyshidrotic Eczema: This causes small blisters on the palm of the hands.
  • Discoid Eczema: There isn’t a rash per se but a circular patch of skin that looks red.
  • Seborrhoeic Eczema: Here you get red scaly patches around the nose, ears and on the scalp.

Treatment of Atopic Eczema

There is currently no cure for Atopic Eczema, though there are things that can be done to alleviate the symptoms. If, for example, your eczema is related to the food you eat, changing your diet can help keep things under control. Most people who suffer from eczema have developed their own self-regulation techniques over the years and no one person is the same.

Another important option is to keep the skin moisturised on a daily basis to stop the skin drying out – sufferers normally choose a product that doesn’t contain harmful chemicals with natural moisturisers working better than others. For severe cases or outbreaks, topical corticosteroids can be used to reduce swelling and redness but need to be dispensed by a doctor.

One of the big challenges sufferers face is not scratching the affected area which generally makes things worse. Eczema can first come to light in young children and controlling their desire to scratch is always going to be difficult. It’s important you get a doctor to diagnose your child properly first of all and avoid things like harsh soaps and bubble baths. For most children the symptoms reduce as they grow but it’s not unusual for people to suffer from Eczema well into adulthood.