Eczema, a general term for skin inflammation, is a long-lasting rash that may itch, turn red or become flaky. Atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema, is a chronic disease which causes itchy skin leading to scratching, redness, swelling and cracking skin. People who suffer from atopic dermatitis may have associated allergies or asthma.
Eczema can occur at any age and all over the body but is most common in babies and children. It often displays on the elbows, fingers and knee cap areas. Different causes trigger atopic dermatitis in different people. Triggers can be strong detergent, weather, sweating, long showers or baths, certain fabrics, pollen and animal dander. Eczema tends to run in families and is a common ailment in the United States. Dry climates, like Wyoming, are harder on skin. The disease can have periods of remission when skin is clear along with flares, periods when the skin is exacerbated.
There is no cure for eczema but symptoms can be treated. Avoiding known triggers and moisturizing skin are the best way to limit flare-ups. Using thick moisturizers with low water content after bathing may help alleviate symptoms. Antihistamines can be taken to help with itching. Itching tends to be worse at night which may affect sleeping. If the symptoms and rash are affecting quality of life, seek an opinion from a healthcare provider. Steroid creams or pills may be prescribed for severe cases.