What is eczema?
Eczema or dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin along with impaired skin barrier, which leads to very itchy, red, dry and scaly skin. When severe, it can weep fluid, look very red and angry or develop tiny water blisters. If ongoing for a long time, the skin can become thick (called lichenification) or form small itchy lumps especially on the limbs (nodular prurigo).
What are the causes of eczema?
Genetic susceptibility – it tends to run in families, and is associated with asthma and hayfever, called atopic eczema
Allergy to certain agents – some become allergic to certain preservatives, hair dye, perfumes etc with time, called allergic contact dermatitis
Excessive exposure to irritants (detergents, soaps etc) – excessive hand washing, or use of irritants causes dryness and inflammation, called irritant contact dermatitis.
How is eczema diagnosed?
Most of the times clinically, that is by examination of the skin. Very rarely a skin biopsy may be required (sample of skin). ?mention we do not do allergy testing
How is eczema treated?
Treatments offered at the clinic include:
Creams – includes moisturisers, steroid creams/ointments and steroid sparing creams. This will be discussed in more detail at your consultation.
Antiseptics or antibiotics – if your skin looks infected.
Antihistamines – to prevent disruption of your sleep
Bandaging – some of them are medicated and help to soothe the skin, reduce the itching and keep the cream in place.
If higher level treatments such as phototherapy or oral agents are required, then a referral to the NHS will be recommended.