Allergies often make eczema more severe and difficult to control.
Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a recurring, non-infectious, inflammatory skin condition affecting one in three Australians at some stage throughout their lives. The condition is most common in people with a family history of an atopic disorder, including asthma or hay fever.
Atopic eczema is the most common form of the disease among Australians. The skin becomes red, dry, itchy and scaly, and in severe cases, may weep, bleed and crust over, causing the sufferer much discomfort. Sometimes the skin may become infected. The condition can also flare and subside for no apparent reason.
Although eczema affects all ages, it usually appears in early childhood (in babies between two-to-six months of age) and disappears around six years of age. In fact, more than half of all eczema sufferers show signs within their most important 12 months of life and 20 per cent of people develop eczema before the age of five.
Most children grow out of the condition, but a small percentage may experience severe eczema into adulthood. The condition can not only affect the individual sufferer, but also their family and friends. Adult onset eczema is often difficult to treat and may be caused by other factors such as allergies.
Eczema can be triggered or aggravated by many factors, including:
- synthetic, wool or other irritating fibres/clothing
- food allergy and intolerance
- food additives
- pollens from grasses, trees and weeds
- contact with animals
- swimming in chlorinated pools
- skin irritation from sand or dirt
- dust mites
- viral/fungal/bacterial infections