What is eczema?

Eczema is a skin condition that causes patches of skin to become itchy and inflamed. It is a common condition, particularly in babies and young children.

There are a number of types of eczema, including atopic dermatitis, which is the most common type; contact dermatitis, which is caused by various irritants; dyshidrotic dermatitis, which affects the fingers, hands and feet; nummular dermatitis, which causes dry skin during winter; and seborrheic dermatitis, which causes itchy rashes mostly on the scalp, eyelids, nose and behind the ears.

What are the symptoms?

Some common symptoms of eczema include inflamed skin that can feel dry and itchy. In some cases, the condition flares up for a period of time before subsiding and flaring up again.

The condition can affect any part of the body, but is most common on the arms, elbows, backs of the knees, cheeks and scalp. Small bumps can develop, while skin can also become thickened and scaly.

How is it diagnosed?

In order to diagnose eczema, Dr Shaikh will perform a thorough physical examination. He may recommend a patch test in order to test if there are any allergens that trigger your condition.

How can it be treated?

Treatment may include a combination of medications that can help to reduce uncomfortable symptoms, like itching. If you skin has become infected, you may need an antibiotic, which can be either topical or oral.

Light therapy, which makes use of ultraviolet lights, can be helpful in reducing the effects of eczema and prevent bacterial skin infections.

In some cases, Dr Shaikh may recommend lifestyle changes, particularly if stress is a trigger for your eczema. If your condition is triggered by irritants, Dr Shaikh will recommend you avoid these. An ointment or cream may be prescribed to help relieve scaling and discomfort.