What is it?
An itchy, dry skin condition that causes skin to be become red and cracked. There are many different types, but the most common is atopic eczema.
Who gets it?
It mainly affects children, but can also affect adults. It usually appears before the age of five, and most cases improve significantly by the age of 16. Eczema, asthma and hay fever are all linked, and often run in families.
What causes it?
There’s a genetic link, so children who have parents with eczema are more likely to develop it themselves. It’s more common among people with dry skin, and symptoms can be triggered by some soaps and shampoos, environmental factors (such as cold, dry weather, damp and mould, dust or pet fur), food allergies, some fabrics, and hormonal changes.
What are the symptoms?
Itchy areas of dry skin. There are usually times when symptoms improve, but flare ups can occur two or three times per month. Severity varies from person to person: some people only have small areas of dry skin but others may have inflamed skin all over the body, which causes constant itching and infection.
What’s the best treatment?
There’s no cure, but symptoms can be improved with regular use of moisturisers, creams and ointments. Antihistamines can be used to relieve itching and phototherapy with UV light can help to reduce inflammation. In some cases, dietary changes can also help.
“My son was diagnosed with eczema when he was six months old, and it got steadily worse. By his second birthday, we were at breaking point. He couldn’t stop scratching and was sore and uncomfortable. It was terribly upsetting for all of us, and my husband and I were exhausted because we were up all night with him, almost every night. After endless referrals we started to despair because nothing worked — and then a friend recommended Dr Clare. We followed her advice and noticed an improvement within a couple of weeks. Twelve months on, there’s no sign of the eczema. Dr Clare achieved the impossible, and I can’t recommend her enough.”
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