Eczema is considered as a chronic, recurrent skin condition that typically occurs in infancy and early childhood, but can persist or start in adulthood. Just like with other allergies and asthma, eczema tends to run in families.
Always bear in mind that eczema or atopic dermatitis is not a rash that itches, but rather an itch. Once this itch is scratched by the individual, it results to a skin rash. Understandably, if the itchiness is controlled and the urge to scratch is managed, no rash will develop.
Who are at risk?
Atopic dermatitis or eczema is a common childhood condition that affects many children usually before the age of 5 years old. The condition is not common in adults, but can start at any age. Take note that it is rare to see this skin condition in adults over 50 years of age.
Essentially, when eczema occurs in infants, it is usually severe but most cases resolve or improve in late childhood. Children who have atopic dermatitis are more likely to end up with other allergic diseases including asthma and allergic rhinitis.
Location of eczema
Always bear in mind that the location of eczema depends on the area of the body that was scratched. Among infants and young children, this rash involves the face, trunk, chest, back of the scalp and even the arms and legs.
In older children and adults, the location of the rash changes to include the skin in front of the elbows and area behind the knees. The skin condition can also involve the face and might be limited to the palm of the hands and soles of the feet in some individuals.
Triggers for itchiness
Itchiness of the skin can be triggered by infections, irritants, allergies and even stress. The irritants cause itchiness through direct stimulation of the skin and include chemicals, harsh soaps, wool fabrics, sweating and heat. The individual should avoid these irritants by using mild soaps, wearing cotton-based clothing and staying cool and dry to prevent the itchiness.
Individuals with eczema are at risk for skin infections by various fungal, bacterial and viral infections. The common skin bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus can worsen the eczema and itchiness. Even herpes infections and the virus responsible for chicken pox and shingles can trigger severe skin infections among those who have eczema.
Allergies can be considered as significant triggers for itchiness among individuals who have eczema. In most cases, the allergens that come in direct contact with the skin such as dust mites and animal dander causes most issues, but even mold spores and pollen present in the air can worsen the condition.
Do not forget that food allergies can also be a major trigger for those who have eczema, especially in children. Milk and egg allergy are the common food allergies in children that can worsen eczema.