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HealthInfo Canterbury

About eczema in adults & teenagers

adult eczemaEczema, also known as atopic dermatitis is a skin condition that causes your skin to be dry, rough and itchy, and sometimes inflamed (red).

Eczema is very common in children, but it can happen in people of any age. It happens more often in people who have allergies, hay fever, or asthma, or have family members with these conditions. You cannot catch eczema off other people.

There is no cure for eczema, but you can usually control the symptoms with the right treatment.

What causes eczema?

Eczema is very common, but we don't know exactly what causes it.

Skin normally has natural oils that protect it from irritation and help it to work as a barrier and keep infection out of your skin. If you have eczema, you don't produce enough of these oils. As a result your skin becomes dry.

Skin with eczema also doesn't work as well to keep infection out. This is because dry skin is more likely to get irritated, inflamed and itchy, and inflamed skin is more likely to get infected.

The aim of treatment for eczema is to keep your skin well moisturised so it doesn't get itchy and is less likely to get infected.

The key to controlling eczema is keeping the skin moist using moisturisers (also called emollients).

On the next page: Living with eczema

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. March 2017.

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Review key: HIEXZ-21485