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What is atopic eczema?

There are many different types of eczema, the most common type is atopic eczema and this is the one we are discussing here.

The skin condition can affect any part of your body, although it is more common on the hands (the fingers in particular), wrists, neck, backs of the knees and the insides of the elbow.

It is relatively common on your face and scalp too, especially in children. Babies usually start with the rash on their face, before it spreads to other areas.

Some people with mild atopic eczema may only have a few patches of dry skin affected, while people with a severe case can be affected all over their body.

Atopic eczema symptoms

Your skin may be:

  • Itchy - this can sometimes be unbearable, and can stop you sleeping at night
  • Dry
  • Sore
  • Irritated
  • Red
  • Inflamed
  • Cracked
  • Thickened
  • Abnormal in colour

The condition tends to go through periods when it’s under control, to periods when it flares up and becomes more inflamed, itchy and sore. Often, people with the condition find that certain things can trigger their flare ups. Read more about the symptoms of atopic eczema.

Atopic eczema diagnosis

You can talk the doctor through all of your symptoms during an online video consultation. By looking at the affected skin and by going through your symptoms and medical history, they should be able to give you a diagnosis. If not, you may be referred to a specialist, usually a dermatologist, who can investigate further.

Find out more about what will happen during your video consultation by clicking here.

Atopic eczema causes

The exact cause of eczema has not been identified although, it is thought that some people are more susceptible than others. If you have problems with dry skin or a close family member has eczema, if you have allergies or asthma, you are more likely to develop it.

In people who have atopic eczema, their skin isn’t able to retain moisture properly, which means it can become very dry quickly. This means the skin isn’t as well protected from allergens, irritants and other environmental factors, so it becomes red, itchy and sore.

Find out more about the causes of atopic eczema.

Atopic eczema treatment

Atopic eczema is a long-term condition and although there is currently no cure, there are a number of different treatment options and these are normally based on the severity of your symptoms and what works best for you.

There are a number of treatments that can be used to relieve eczema symptoms, these include:

  • Emollients - Special moisturising ointments, creams or lotions
  • Topical corticosteroids
  • Antihistamines
  • Medicated bandages and wraps

Find out more about how atopic eczema can be treated.

Atopic eczema in pregnancy

Atopic eczema in pregnancy is common. The many changes your body goes through during pregnancy can cause changes in your skin. If you already have the condition, your symptoms may get worse, or they may improve - it varies from person to person.

There are many treatments available to deal with the condition that are perfectly safe to use when pregnant. A doctor can recommend which are the right options for you.

If you are worried about your atopic eczema or want to know more about how the skin condition can affect your pregnancy or your baby, our doctors are here to help. They will provide all the reassurance and advice you need.

For further information about atopic eczema in pregnancy.

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