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Eczema, an itch that rashes; atopic dermatitis

 

 

World Allergy Week is a global campaign of the World Allergy Organisation (WAO) which aims to raise awareness of the impact of allergy in our communities.  2018's focus area is Atopic Dermatitis/Eczema: An Itch that Rashes.1

 

The World Allergy Organisation is addressing the need for greater awareness and understanding of atopic dermatitis including the role of food allergy as well as quality of life concerns, new treatment options, the socio-economic burden and the importance of skin care.2

 

You can join the Allergy and Immunology Foundation of Australias (AIFA) this World Allergy Week and participate in their 'wear a spot of red' initiative that aims to raise awareness and funds to support research into allergies.

 

WHAT IS ATOPIC DERMATITIS?

 

Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, atopic eczema and allergic eczema, is a common skin condition that causes a red, dry and itchy inflammation of the skin caused by a non-contagious yet relapsing skin disease.

 

Often coming on in childhood, but also evident in adults, eczema sufferers often also have other allergic conditions, including hay fever and asthma.

 

WHAT TRIGGERS ECZEMA?

 

According to Health Direct, "there are many things, known as triggers, that can make eczema symptoms worse"3, including:

 

  • dry skin

  • scratching the affected area

  • viral or bacterial infections

  • chemicals from swimming pools

  • sand, especially from sandpits

  • contact with some types of carpet or grass

  • allergens that you can breathe in, such as pollen

  • artificial colours and preservatives

  • perfumes, soap and chemicals

  • woollen or synthetic fabrics

  • heat or very hot rooms

  • stress

 

SYMPTOMS OF ECZEMA

 

The main symptom is a rash (areas of red, dry, itchy skin) that commonly appear in the creases of the arms, neck and behind the knees, but can appear anywhere.

 

DIAGNOSING ECZEMA

 

Your GP will be able to diagnose your eczema through a check-up and examination. Allergy tests may be requested to assist in the diagnosis and define triggers.

 

TREATMENT OF ECZEMA

 

Eczema is quite treatable and here are some ways to manage your skin condition:

 

Keep skin hydrated: along with drinking the recommended amount of water, you can also protect your skin from the outside by applying moisturiser every day. Some severe cases of eczema may require more specialised treatment of wet dressings to reduce inflammation, protect and rehydrate the skin.

 

Avoid soap and other irritants: keep skin products simple, avoiding highly chemical and perfumed products. Help to manage infection by keeping your environment clean.

 

Control itching: your GP may advise the use of antihistamines or a cold compress for the affected area.

 

Don't scratch that itch: as tempting as it may be, itching the skin will only aggravate the skin further and increase inflammation. It is easier said than done, especially when it comes to children, so having an eczema management plan in place will help.

 

ECZEMA MANAGEMENT PLAN

 

Working with your GP to determine your eczema triggers, they can then put in place a personalised eczema management plan to help control the skin condition.

 

This can include how to avoid triggers, what treatment to use and a plan to manage irritation.

 

If you have any questions or concerns regarding eczema, or any other skin allergy, please speak to your GP for information and advice.

 

 

References & resources

 

1. https://www.allergyimmunology.org.au/support-aifa/worldallergyweek

2. http://www.worldallergy.org/resources/world-allergy/world-allergy-week-2018

3. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/eczema

 

 

 

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