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What is Eczema: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

What is Eczema?

Eczema is a skin condition that causes dry and irritated skin. It’s a form of dermatitis which means inflammation of the skin. There are different types of eczema but the most common form of eczema is atopic eczema (atopic dermatitis) which is a chronic condition that causes your skin to become dry, itchy, cracked and sore. 

What are the symptoms of eczema?

Symptoms do improve over periods which are usually followed by a period of a worsening of symptoms called flare-ups. Skin becomes red on lighter skin or a darker brown, purple or grey on darker toned skin. Eczema is very common on hands, elbows and the back of your knees, face and scalp but can occur on any part of the body.

If you suffer with eczema you have definitely noticed the need to constantly scratch the affected areas. Scratching makes the itchiness worse and can lead to disrupted sleep and can potentially lead to secondary infections.

What Triggers Eczema?

Now we’ve covered what eczema is and the main symptoms, it's important to get an idea of the different triggers.

If you suffer from eczema there’s a high chance you also suffer from allergies, “Atopic” means Sensitive to allergens and often develops alongside conditions like asthma and hay fever. Triggers for eczema include:

  • Environmental factors such as moulds, dust mites, pet fur and pollen
  • Detergents & Soaps
  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes, some women suffer with flare-ups when they are pregnant or at different times in their cycle.
  • Food allergies such as dairy, peanuts, wheat, soya etc.
  • Certain materials such as wool and synthetic materials
  • Cold and dry weather

Try a process of elimination on factors you can control such as food and materials and make notes of what leads to flare-ups in a diary.

Treat Atopic Eczema

Dry skin is a problem often associated with eczema because people with atopic eczema often struggle to retain much moisture which makes the skin more prone to react to certain triggers.

There are two main steps to treating atopic eczema:

  1. Self-care which includes reducing scratching and avoiding triggers listed above
  2. A good skin care routine with suitable moisturising treatments

Check out our step by step eczema treatment guide which includes a list of fragrance free and 100% organic eczema creams and soaps to help you soothe and relieve itchy skin.

Make sure you call you doctor if you notice any signs of an infection such as a fever, redness, warmth or blisters and if your eczema suddenly gets worse