Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a very common red, dry, scaly and itchy skin condition that can occur at any time. It can be associated with other atopic conditions such as hay fever, asthma and food allergies. There is often a family history of similar conditions suggesting a strong genetic link, mostly within a gene called filaggrin.
The condition often affects the creases of the elbows and knees, but can also affect the face and be more widespread. There are many different variants and presentations of eczema depending on one’s skin type and ethnicity as well as other factors such as superimposed infections.
Eczema can sometimes be a chronic problem and management relies on regular moisturising and maintaining a good, gentle skin care regimen including avoiding irritants such as soaps and hot water. Most children with mild eczema improve with age. Cortisone creams are often used to manage eczema. Phototherapy is sometimes used and may help settle eczema. Tablets and injections that can modify the immune response are utilised in some severe cases.