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Eczema – also known as atopic dermatitis, is a type of skin inflammation that is common in people with hay fever, asthma or food allergies. Its most common form is atopic eczema, a skin condition that affects about one in five children, with symptoms usually occurring in a very young age, often before their first birthday.


The first signs of eczema are usually little bumps of inflammation around the hair follicles with red and sore-looking skin that typically occurs in and around the folds behind the knees, on the insides of the elbows or wrists, around the neck and on the face, particularly around the eyes and ears. Eczema affects the upper layer of the skin, making it itchy, sore and inflamed. The skin can become cracked and broken, which is made worse by scratching. If scratched, the skin can bleed and weep, before crusting over


The precise cause of atopic eczema is not fully understood. It often affects people who are susceptible to allergies. Research also shows that atopic eczema is partly an inherited condition. All types of skin allergies (including those related to food) can make eczema worse. Food allergens that have been linked to eczema include cow’s milk, eggs, nuts, soya and wheat. Eczema is also more common in children who have allergy-related conditions such as hay fever and asthma. It may be that environmental factors, such as dust, pet fur and pollen, can trigger eczema. Even the weather and temperature can have an impact on eczema symptoms


If you have eczema you probably find you have long periods where your symptoms are far less troublesome. Your skin may appear to clear up altogether. Then your symptoms come back in what is often called a 'flare-up' and you may need to treat your skin. Some factors can make a flare-up more likely.

  • Hormonal changes in women – menstrual cycle or pregnancy can lead to flare-ups
  • Stress – the relationship between stress and eczema isn’t fully understood but it may also make your symptoms worse
  • Exercise – provoking excess sweating.  


Eczema can be diagnosed, managed and treated but it cannot be cured. You may continue to have symptoms throughout your life, or your skin will be dry and sensitive. You can help to manage the condition by

  • Finding a soap that is does not irritate your skin
  • Using cosmetics and other products that suit your skin
  • Treating flare-ups as soon as they start
  • Taking good care of your skin, keeping it clean and hydrated.

Our consultant dermatologists can provide assessment, diagnosis and treatment for eczema flare-ups, as well as advice on an individual care plan for your skin

Make an appointment today