A condition of dry itchy, easily irritated skin usually affecting the face and extremities. Often occurs in families with a tendency to asthma and hay fever. Tends to last for years – although improvement seen in most patients in teenage years. Eczema cannot be cured but can be controlled by maintaining good skin care habits and understanding factors that make it worse.
A number of factors worsen eczema: heat, sweat, standard soaps, pet dander (esp. cats) and other infections. Current treatments include gentle cleansers, frequent moisturization, and the use of anti-inflammatory creams (cortisone and non-cortisone) – sometimes with the use of antihistamine pills for itch relief.
New treatments continue to be evaluated in research trials for atopic eczema (contact www.wcri.ca for more information).