A sometimes chronic skin condition, eczema accounts for 10-20% of all visits to dermatologists and this figure is rising, especially in the younger age bracket.
The usual symptoms of Eczema are red patches on the skin's surface which become inflamed and sore, and begin to itch. These red patches may appear almost anywhere on the body. The good news for Eczema sufferers is that there is sometimes a chance that they'll outgrow the disease, particularly if they were diagnosed when they were very young. For others, Eczema is a condition they will struggle with their entire lives. Fortunately, it's manageable with treatment, and many suffers lead fairly normal lives.
There are many different types of Eczema. The most common form is Atopic dermatitis, which includes forms of the disease that are associated with related allergies, such as asthma or hay fever. Other forms include Allergic Contact, where the inflammation is sparked by contact with an allergen; Contact; Dyshidrotic; Neurodermatitis, Nummular; Seborrheic; and Stasis Dermatitis. Any form of the disease which results in skin inflammation leads to itching. If a sufferer scratches the affected area, this causes redness and sometimes cracking, scaling and weeping, which can lead to infection. The biggest challenge for a parent with a child who suffers from the illness is to prevent scratching.
This illness is most often diagnosed in early childhood or infancy. Studies show that in 65% of cases of the illness, patients develop symptoms in their first year, and in 90% of cases, in the first five years. The illness effects both sexes in equal number. The condition is not contagious, and may flare up or recede at different points in the sufferer's lifetime. Sometimes the disease may disappear altogether over a period of years. Children who are diagnosed young, and in effect "out-grow" the illness, will usually find that their skin will always be sensitive to irritation afterwards.
Though unsightly and at times painful, there are many steps sufferers can take to easy the discomfort and subsequently lead relatively normal lives.