Eczema, pronounced eg-zuh-MUH, is the name for a group of conditions that cause the skin to become red, itchy and inflamed. Eczema is very common. In fact, more than one million Australians have some form of Eczema. Eczema is not contagious. You can’t “catch it” from someone else.
While the exact cause of eczema is unknown, researchers do know that people who develop eczema do so because of a combination of genes and environmental triggers. When an irritant or an allergen from outside or inside the body “switches on” the immune system, it produces inflammation. It is this inflammation that causes the symptoms common to most types of eczema.
Types of eczema
- Atopic dermatitis
- Contact dermatitis
- Dyshidrotic eczema
- Nummular eczema
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Stasis dermatitis
It is possible to have more than one type at a time. All types of eczema cause itching and redness, but some may also cause your skin to blister, “weep,” or peel.
It’s important to understand which type you or your child may have and also your symptoms and triggers, so that you can best treat and manage your eczema. But the only way to be sure that you or your child has eczema and which type, is to make an appointment with your doctor.
An important part of managing your condition effectively is to understand the triggers that bring on a “flare up”. Triggers to flare ups can include any of the following:
- Dry skin
- Scratching (night gloves and clipped fingernails may be needed in young children)
- Viral or bacterial infections
- Swimming in chlorinated swimming pools
- Playing in sand and particularly sandpits
- Sitting directly on carpets or grass
- Inhalant allergens – worsening of eczema in spring and summer may also be due to pollen sensitivity
- Food intolerances to artificial colour and preservatives
- Irritants such as perfumes, soap, chemicals, woollen or synthetic fabrics
- Temperature changes (such as heat) or overly heated rooms
- Stress (this can make it worse, but eczema is not a psychological condition)
Understanding your individual factors that trigger your skin condition will enable individuals to be able to manage the condition and avoid the triggers. Secondly, trying to improve the moisture of the skin and reduce inflammation can also greatly enhance your ability to manage your condition. Koena cream is formulated specifically to help improve the hydration of your skin and help reduce your inflammatory overload.
Common symptoms of eczema include:
- Dry, scaly skin
- Redness (erythema)
- Cracks behind the ears
- A rash on the cheeks, arms and legs
- Open, crusted or “weepy” sores (usually during flare-ups)