Eczema, also known as dermatitis, is common in children and adults. It can affect anywhere on the skin, from the scalp to the toes. Eczema is red, dry, flaky, peeling skin that is itchy. If it becomes infected from repeated scratching, the skin can become oozy and crusted. Sometimes, extensive infection of eczematous skin can cause fever.
There are many forms of eczema, related to genetic, dry skin, oily skin, repeated scratching and external contact for example. Eczema can affect many parts of the body, even the hands and feet including the nails.
If you are prone to eczema, the following may help relieve your skin and prevent flares.
Avoid precipitating factors
Loose, cotton clothing
Avoid frequent contact with chemicals and hot water
Apply moisturizers liberally
Avoid smoking
Minimize scratching
You dermatologist will help you find out the cause and prescribe medicated creams, lotions or ointments best suited for you. Moisturisers are a must and are to be used even after the eczema has settled. The topical treatment may contain steroid (for short term) and non-steroidal components for long term control. If necessary, antibiotics, anti-itch tablets or other oral medications will be given as indicated. Targeted phototherapy can help alleviate spots that are resistant. Systemic medications can control severe dermatitis effectively and prevent major flare-up. We do not advocate the long term use of systemic steroid because of the severe and sometimes irreversible side effects cumulatively. Your dermatologist will discuss with you the benefits and risks of non-steroidal systemic medications and evaluate the condition and check bloods regularly. In the future, we look forward to the use of biologics that target at the pathway of eczema.
Allergy testing (patch test)
You may be allergic to a something that you have come into contact with. A patch test is a procedure that helps you identify this substance(s). During the test, standardized tapes with common materials encountered in our daily lives and work will be placed onto your back for a few days. Your dermatologist will review the response of your skin to the tested materials over a few days to help decide the culprit of the contact dermatitis.