About Eczema

what is eczema

Also known as Atopic Dermatitis or Atopic Eczema

Eczema is a chronic and complex itchy skin condition. But it is more than just a skin condition. For those living with eczema, it can vary from a mild to moderate itch to an extremely itchy, painful and debilitating condition, with huge effects on quality of life. It can look very different in babies/children and teens/adults. It also looks different in skin of colour.

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Boy Scratching His Face. Human Skin, Presenting An Allergic Reaction, Allergic Rash On Face And Lips.

Babies & children

Babies with eczema often have inflammation (flare ups) around the face and neck area. Children with eczema often have dry skin. The flexures are usually affected, including the knees, elbows and the skin of the neck. Eczema can look different on different skin tones.

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Close Up On Eczema, Skin Rash, Atopic Dermatitis On A Boy's Legs.

Teens with eczema

Eczema in teenagers is not often discussed.  It can be difficult to navigate through the mental, emotional and physical affects of eczema. Information and support at this stage of life is important.

 

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Adults

Some people have lifelong disease, others may not develop the symptoms until adulthood. It can be localised or widespread, and it may be severe and difficult to treat. Even if the eczema/atopic dermatitis is confined to just the hands, the impact on quality of life is huge.

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causes

What causes eczema?

There is no single cause of eczema, it can be caused by a mixture of things. 

 

  • Eczema can run in families 

 

  • The immune system over-reacts 

 

  • The skin works less well as a barrier 

 

Things such as soaps or washing powders can make eczema worse. 

There is no single cause of eczema but we know tht is is influenced by a mixture of things. Eczema can be influenced by genetics (runs in the family), a skin barrier problem (making it less able to protect agains irritants or lock in moisture) and an overactive immune system. Eczema is NOT contagious.

This video from the Eczema Care Online Toolkit helps explain what eczema is and the causes of eczema flares.

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Living with eczema

Types of eczema

Eczema is a chronic skin condition but, as the saying goes, one size does not fit all. While common symptoms include dry, scaly skin, redness and itchiness that may be intense, there are in fact seven different types of eczema, all of which have their own unique characteristics and triggers.

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TRIGGERS

What are the triggers of eczema?

The triggers of eczema are often different for each individual. It can be extremely frustrating as you try to work out the cause of each flare up.

Avoiding triggers and controlling flare ups/inflammation are ways in which you can manage your condition. But there is rarely just one trigger that will be responsible.

  • Weather

    Dry, Low Humidity Weather

  • Food

    Food Allergies or Intolerances

    (seek doctors/allergist/immunologist advice before eliminating foods)

  • Skin

    Dry Skin

  • Clothing

    Clothing

    e.g. coarse, scratchy wool, synthetic materials like polyester, tags, on clothing

  • Detergents

    Skin Irritants

    such as soaps and detergents.

  • Viral

    Viral and Bacterial Infections

    can both seriously aggravate eczema. Herpes simplex (cold sores) may become widespread and require hospitalisation.

  • Sweating

    Hot, Humid Weather Associated with Sweating

    associated with sweating

  • Allergens

    Skin Allergens

    which cause allergic contact dermatitis such as perfume, preservatives in skincare products, metals such as nickel and many other.

  • Stress

    Stress

  • Pollens

    Pollens, grasses and moulds

  • Dust Mite

    Dust Mite

    if there is an allergy to household dust mite.

  • Pet

    Pet dander and saliva

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Frequently Asked Questions

Eczema is a chronic and complex itchy skin condition. But it is more than just a skin condition. For those living with eczema, it can vary from a mild to moderate itch to an extremely itchy, painful and debilitating condition, with huge effects on quality of life. There are different types of eczema, the most common being atopic eczema.

Visit the Eczema Resource Library to learn more.

All our information about eczema has been reviewed by The Australasian College of Dermatologists.