According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) your skin is the largest and fastest growing organ in your body. The skin is responsible for keeping all your organs intact and for protecting you from extreme climates. Caring for your skin is not purely out of vanity as unhealthy skin may lead to complications like rashes and serious illnesses like skin cancer (melanoma). In this article we tackle the subject of eczema—a common skin disease that affects about 15% of children and some 2-4% of adults.
What is eczema?
Eczema or also referred to as atopic eczema/atopic dermatitis is a chronic, non-infectious skin condition that is commonly found in children but may also affect some adults. An early indication of this inflammatory disease is visible and itchy rashes which are usually triggered by certain irritants.
Your skin is made up of three main layers: the epidermis (outer), the dermis (middle), and the subcutaneous layer (inner). Eczema occurs when the corneal layer in the epidermis is damaged due to inflammation, therefore, resulting in rough, cracked skin. As mentioned, heredity may also play a role in developing eczema—mainly having a mutated gene that affects the production of filaggrin. If your body isn’t producing enough of this protein, then your skin loses most of its moisture which makes you vulnerable to germs and allergens which may cause infection.
Having acute eczema may prove to be extremely uncomfortable for some people since you develop red and very itchy skin. Extreme cases may cause you to have painful blisters which secrete fluids once you scratch it. Patients who suffer from eczema often have occasional flare-ups which typically appear on their cheeks, arms, legs, and at the backs of their knees, elbows, and neck.
Your risk of developing this skin condition is higher if anyone in your family also suffered from eczema. Some studies also suggest that children who are exposed to germs at an early stage or those with healthier immune systems are less likely to develop eczema. Other risk factors include existing skin allergies, personal hygiene, wearing certain fabrics, and exposure to pollution or extreme weather conditions.
Visit your nearest clinic if you suspect that you or your child is suffering from eczema. A simple physical exam may be administered by your physician. An allergy test may also be performed to rule out other common skin diseases like psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis. It is important to observe the initial symptoms of eczema over a period of time so you can help your doctor give you a proper diagnosis.