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Eczema: more than just an itch

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Has your peachy-pink skin been going through some changes? Does it have the colour of a tomato and the texture of an orange instead? The appearance of redness or patches can be a sign of eczema. Learn more about this disease to prevent the manifestation of symptoms as early as possible.

L’eczéma : un mal qui dérange et qui démange!

The appearance of eczema

Itch, itch, scratch, scratch! We all know how annoying and unpleasant itchiness can be, especially when it happens at night. There are several reasons for feeling itchy; eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is one of them.

Itchiness is a common symptom of eczema. It is accompanied by red blotches on the skin, which become very dry and can form blisters filled with clear liquid. Finally, there can appear a dry crust.

Skin folds are more conducive to developing eczema, but this skin disease can appear all over the body (hands, feet, ankles, cheeks, forehead, neck, baby’s diaper area, etc.). It is important to keep in mind that eczema is not contagious and that touching skin blotches does not transmit the disease at all. Atopic dermatitis can affect people of all ages, but mostly babies and young children. It usually starts before the age of 1 and, in almost all cases, before the age of 5. It cannot be cured per se, but fortunately, many children who suffer from eczema will see their symptoms significantly decrease between the ages of 5 and 15.

The causes of eczema

Skin has a vital function; it acts as a barrier to prevents irritants, microbes and other foreign matter from the environment to reach the body. To fully achieve this goal, skin must stay intact, healthy and hydrated. People who suffer from eczema have a weaker barrier, making skin more sensitive to environmental irritants. Genetics also play a part in the skin’s fragility; a child whose parents (or even one parent) suffer from eczema has a higher risk of having it too. An imbalance in the immune system can also be the reason behind atopic dermatitis, but the scope of this particular cause is still unknown. In addition, eczema often appears with other medical conditions, such as asthma and seasonal or food allergies.

What can trigger eczema?

Eczema is a chronic disease whose symptoms are not always manifested; in other words, its sufferers can enjoy periods of remission. These moments of respite alternate with flare-ups, when itchiness and redness reappear. Certain situations and environmental factors can lead to a recurrence of atopic dermatitis symptoms, so it is best to avoid them. There are several triggers, but not all of them cause flare-ups in people suffering from eczema. Here is a list of top triggers:

  • products that contain fragrance;
  • laundry detergents;
  • cleaning products;
  • smoke (ex: cigarette);
  • some fabrics (ex: wool, synthetic fibres);
  • weather (sunny, humid, dry);
  • perspiration;
  • allergens (pollen, animals, dust, mites);
  • hot water;
  • swimming (chlorinated pool water or saltwater);
  • certain foods (ex: soy, wheat, eggs, nuts, seafood);
  • infections;
  • stress and highly emotional situations.

Atopic dermatitis is a skin problem that occurs at a young age. It is characterized by itchiness and skin that is sensitive to several irritants. Thankfully, there are treatments to relieve the symptoms of eczema; ask your pharmacist for advice on treatment options and measures to prevent and alleviate them. Your skin takes care of you by being protective, so return the favour and keep it healthy!

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