About Eczema: Causes and Symptoms

About Eczema: Causes and Symptoms

Eczema, also known as dermatitis, is a common skin condition characterized by the inflammation, swelling or irritation of the skin. Eczema affects as many as 35 million Americans. Although it is not dangerous, it can cause significant discomfort if the skin itches. If scratched, the condition can worsen.

Atopic dermatitis, or atopic eczema, is the most common form of eczema and is often found in babies and children. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, up to 20 percent of children, and one to three percent of adults will develop atopic eczema.

Causes include:

  • An overreaction to environmental triggers by the body’s immune system
  • Family history of allergies or asthma
  • A defect in the skin which causes it to not properly regulate moisture and germs
  • Irritants – Environmental elements such as soaps, detergents and certain fabrics
  • Stress – Any form of stress, such as work, family or social issues, can trigger eczema
  • Climate – Dramatic decreases in humidity can trigger eczema and cold, damp conditions can hamper eczema treatments
  • Perspiration
  • Animal dander
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Genetics

Who Gets It?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology:

  • Up to 20 percent of children and one to three percent of adults will develop atopic eczema
  • Eczema is an equal opportunity condition that does not favor males or females
  • Although atopic eczema is most common in babies and children, it can also appear during puberty or throughout adulthood
  • Most of the infants who develop eczema are likely to outgrow it by their 10th birthday
  • A family history of eczema can also play a part in determining whether the condition will develop
  • Children with asthma or hay fever, or adults who develop asthma or hay fever before age 30 also seem to be more susceptible to eczema
  • Stress can trigger eczema, eczema can also trigger stress, which occurs when the affected skin is visible, leading to social stigma over the appearance of the condition

According to the National Eczema Organization, the most common symptoms of eczema are:

  • Dry, sensitive skin
  • Intense itching
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Recurring rash
  • Scaly areas
  • Rough, leathery patches
  • Oozing or crusting
  • Areas of swelling
  • Dark-colored patches of skin

If you or a family member is living with eczema:  How Can You Feel Better?
Find a Forefront physician nearest you to learn about treatment options and lifestyle changes that can help prevent flare-ups and eliminate eczema disease symptoms in many cases.