Eczema, also known as dermatitis, is a common skin condition characterized by inflammation, swelling, or irritation of the skin. Eczema affects as many as 35 million Americans. Eczema is not dangerous, but it can cause significant discomfort if the skin itches. When that happens, the condition may worsen if the eczema is scratched.
Atopic dermatitis, or atopic eczema, is the most common form of eczema and is often found in babies and children.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, up to 20 percent of children and one to three percent of adults will develop atopic eczema. Eczema is an equal opportunity condition that does not favor males or females. Although atopic eczema is most common in babies and children, it can also appear during puberty or throughout adulthood. Most infants who develop eczema are likely to outgrow it by their 10th birthday, though some eczema sufferers have lifelong symptoms.
A family history of eczema can also play a part in determining whether the condition will develop. Children with asthma or hay fever, or adults who develop asthma or hay fever before age 30 also seem to be more susceptible to eczema. Many adults experience eczema symptoms in times of stress. And while stress can trigger eczema, eczema can also trigger stress, which occurs when the affected skin is visible, leading to social stigma over the appearance of the condition.
The onset of eczema is often characterized by itchiness in the area of the skin that will be visibly affected. Eczema is not contagious and may develop in any other area of the skin as well. When eczema occurs it is characterized by dry, scaly, flaky, or thickened skin that is reddish and may turn brown. Conversely, those people with darker skin may see the affected area become lighter in color. Eczema can be cyclical with intermittent flare-ups. Infants most often suffer from eczema on the face and scalp, although like adults, it may appear anywhere.
Though there is no cure for eczema, its effects can be controlled through diligent care. Knight Dermatology Institute will work with you to determine a treatment plan that works best for you. Treatments can include topical steroids, non-steroid drugs, and phototherapy.