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What Is Eczema? – A Closer Look at Atopic Dermatitis

What Is Eczema?

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic medical (skin) condition (disorder) that causes the skin to become irritated and inflamed. It is a condition that is most common in children but it can last throughout adulthood. Infants that develop eczema often outgrow it by their 10th birthday, but some will occasionally suffer symptoms throughout their lives.

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The Symptoms of Eczema

The most common symptom is itching. The itching can be severe at times and is often worse at night. Because the skin can be so itchy, many people also have very sensitive and irritated skin because they scratch their skin to try to relieve the itch. Other symptoms include colored patches on the skin that are red to brownish gray in color, small raised bumps, and thickened, cracking or scaly skin.

What Causes Eczema?

The exact cause of eczema is not known but according to Web M.D. and the Mayo Clinic website, it may be caused by a problem with the body’s immune system. Most experts also believe that people suffering from atopic dermatitis have a genetic predisposition to this condition. Eczema is also more common in families with a history of asthma or allergies and many people report flareups when they come in contact with certain substances, much like an allergic reaction.

There are some foods that contain certain properties where it releases histamine inside the body where it causes itching or stimulates eczema in a form of a bad skin reaction (Dr. Haydey, 2013). Eczema sufferers may not be necessarily be allergic to these foods according to an allergist but eating excessive amounts can stimulate negative reaction.  These include:
● chocolate
● shellfish
● anything containing caffeine
● citrus fruits

oranges
● tomatoes
● nuts
● eggs
● cheese
● spices
● alcohol

This means that its usually a good idea to avoid these stimulants whenever an eczema flare up occurs. However a moderate or little consumption of it may not be enough to cause it.

How Eczema Is Diagnosed?

Your doctor, whether they are a dermatologist or a primary care physician, will be able to diagnose eczema. Your doctor will complete a thorough physical examination and also look into your medical history. They will also ask you when the symptoms first started and if you notice symptoms occurring when you come into contact with certain materials or when there is a change in the environment.

Because people that suffer from eczema often suffer from allergies as well, it is not uncommon for a doctor to perform allergy tests to try to identify possible triggers.

When You Should See a Doctor

If you have a rash or excessive itching and you think it might be eczema, you should definitely see your physician for a diagnosis. If you have already been diagnosed with eczema you should look into finding a doctor/dermatologist who specializes in the skin department when your symptoms become difficult to manage. If your skin is painful or if you think your skin might be infected,  your doctor may refer you to a local dermatologist.  He or she may then prescribe some ointments, lotions (my review), creams or medication depending on your severity.   If you are so uncomfortable that you are losing sleep or it is affecting your daily routine and if you have been unable to effectively treat your symptoms at home, please visit your doctor immediately.

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Sou About the author

I grew up with a mild to severe case of Eczema. I’m all about skin care tips, good eating, skin cream reviews, and healthy & positive living!