Atopic dermatitis (Eczema)

There are over a thousand entities in dermatology; it is difficult to understand all in just a few pages. We are going to describe a few common skin problems. This is purely educational; if you have a skin disease, please consult your dermatologist.

Eczema is an atopic skin disease. It often starts at an early age, although some of us get it at a later age. We are still not certain why we get eczema, but we know it is related to allergic condition such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, urticarial and certain food intake. We also know eczema can run in the family, and is more common in developed countries.

Eczema causes skin itching, and can be very embarrassing for the sufferer due to non-stop scratching. The skin may look red and dry. Repeated scratching leads to coarsening of the skin, or lichenification. The commonly affected areas are the flexure areas, such as the skin behind the knees, but can be everywhere.

It is not uncommon to have eczema coexisting with other atopic conditions such as asthma and allergic rhinitis.

The mainstay treatment is to keep the skin moisturized and supple. Steroidal or non-steroidal topical medication can effectively calm the skin and soothe itching. Sometimes, we need to do skin tests to find out the allergens involved, so as to avoid them.

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