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What is Eczema?

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition that makes the skin red, dry, itchy, and cracked. And no two people experience eczema the same way. Anyone at any age can experience symptoms of eczema. It can be small or large patches (flare ups) on any area of the body, but usually starts on the face in infants and is often found in skin creases like the back of the knees and inside of the elbows. 

Mild symptoms include:

  • Dry skin
  • Itchy skin
  • Rash

Severe symptoms (include mild plus):

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Cracking
  • Bleeding

 

 

 

 


The itching can sometimes be so bad that you want to scratch constantly, even in your sleep. In fact, kids with eczema—and their parents—can lose up to 2 hours of sleep a night1

Most common form of eczema

Allergic eczema—also called atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema— is the most common kind of eczema. It often develops in connections with other conditions, like asthma and seasonal allergies. 90% of patients with food allergies plus eczema have their symptoms triggered by milk, egg, peanut, wheat, soy, shrimp, and fish.4 Eczema can also have psychological impacts:

  • Children with allergic eczema have a worse quality of life than children with asthma, diabetes, or epilepsy2
  • Children with allergic eczema may also miss days of school, skip activities, and feel social isolation3

Eczema is many things—frustrating, painful, annoying—but it is not contagious.

What causes eczema?

Everyday things can cause your eczema to flare up or get worse, like:

  • Irritants (laundry detergent, shampoo, bubble bath, hand soap, dish soap, or surface cleaners, cigarette smoke)
  • Year-round allergies (animals, dust mites, mold)
  • Seasonal allergies (pollen)
  • Food (milk, egg, peanut, wheat, soy,)
  • Stress

In addition, eczema can put you at a higher risk for viral and bacterial skin infections, since your skin has already been damaged.

 

Why it’s important to know now

You may be so used to living with your eczema that you may not consider asking for help. So, how do you know if your eczema is caused or made worse by allergies?

If you think you or someone you love has allergies, don’t try to manage the problem on your own. A simple blood test—together with your medical history—can help identify underlying allergen triggers, if you have an allergy.  A blood test can be done even if you’re experiencing a flare up or if you are taking antihistamines. Be sure to consult with your healthcare professional because knowing if you’re allergic and what you’re allergic to can help you, or a loved one, avoid or minimize symptoms.

Learn more about testing

Experience the comfort and convenience of an online diagnosis from a healthcare professional directly from your phone.

 

References
  1. Reid P, et al. Clin Exp Dermatol. 1995;20:38-41.
  2. Beattie PE, et al. Br J Dermatol. 2006;155:145-51.
  3. Chamlin SL, et al. Pediatrics. 2004;114:607-11.
  4. Bergmann MM, et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2013;1:22-8.