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Adult Eczema: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Eczema is an inflammation of the skin.

It usually starts in early childhood, but this is not always the case. It is possible that a person has always had eczema in their system, but may not notice it or experience a flare until later in life.

Stress, illness or pregnancy are some of the main reasons eczema will appear as an adult. With eczema, the severity can range from mild to severe. There is no cure for eczema, but treatment can usually control or ease symptoms. Moisturisers (emollients) and steroid creams or ointments are the common treatments.

Symptoms of eczema

Eczema is almost always itchy. No matter what part of the body, you will notice an itch. In most cases, you will notice the itch before the rash appears. When the rash does appear, it most commonly occurs on the face, arms, knees, hands or feet. Affected areas usually appear very dry, thickened or scaly. Oozing may occur in some instances, and you may experience bleeding from persistent scratching of the affected areas.

Causes of eczema

The exact cause of eczema is unknown, unfortunately. But it is believed to be the result of an over active immune system. As with most immune system related diseases, the body gears itself up to fight an infection or bacteria that actually doesn't exist. The result is the rash appearing on the skin. In addition, eczema is commonly found in families with a history of other allergies or asthma.

Some people may suffer from occasional "flare-ups", rather than all year round. For some, coming into contact with rough or coarse materials, feeling too hot or too cold, exposure to soap or detergent, or even coming into contact with animals may cause an outbreak.

Diagnosis of eczema

As tempting as it is to self diagnose over the internet, you must avoid this! Your GP is the only person who can make an official and proper diagnosis of eczema.

Treatment of eczema

Itching associated with eczema can damage the skin and lead to infection, so the ultimate goal of eczema treatment is to stop the itch. Since the disease makes skin dry and itchy, lotions and creams (emollients) are recommended to keep the skin moisturised.

These products are usually applied when the skin is damp, such as after bathing, to help the skin retain moisture. Cold compresses may also be used to relieve itching.

In some cases, steroid creams are the best form of treatment, but make sure to speak with your doctor before purchasing any of these creams. If the affected area becomes infected, your GP may prescribe antibiotics to kill the infection-causing bacteria.

This article has been sponsored by Oilatum. Oilatum is clinically proven to significantly reduce itching for up to eight hours. Perfect for babies who need long-lasting relief from dry, itchy and eczema-prone skin.

As always, the information contained on eumom.ie is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis or treatment by a qualified medical professional. If in doubt, always consult your doctor.

About the Author

Editor of eumom.ie, Mairéad Cahalan is a creator of content, a lover of music, red wine and coffee, and a part-time wedding singer! Find her on Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud and LinkedIn.

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