Expert Insights on Eczema
Thirty million Americans suffer from eczema, a chronic skin disease associated with dryness and itchiness. Although it’s a common condition, there are a lot of misunderstandings surrounding eczema and the best ways to manage it.
Simple lifestyle changes can be as essential to relieving symptoms as medication.
Dermatologist Sylvia Wright, MD, answers some of the common questions she hears from her patients.
1. Q: What causes eczema?
A: Eczema can be a catch-all term for most red, itchy rashes, but there are actually several types of skin conditions within eczema. Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema and one of the most severe. A chronic, inflammatory skin condition causing redness and itchiness, atopic dermatitis often appears in infants. While some children grow out of the condition, about 50% of childhood cases continue into adulthood. Although there isn’t exactly a known cause, we do know that a combination of family history, environmental irritants and immune-related factors can provoke eczema outbreaks. We also know that atopic dermatitis is linked to other conditions, including hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and asthma. Many patients with eczema also have allergies or asthma, and their symptoms can become worse when suffering from allergic reactions to food or certain chemicals, for instance.
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