Eczema treatment

Eczema treatment: Link with allergy identified as key to treatment

Eczema is one of the painful skin conditions that affect people of all ages, from babies to adults. The immense burden and economic impact of the condition necessitated further research into possible treatment options. According to statistics, the NHS spends up to £170 million every year on the condition and about 15 million children and adults suffer from Eczema in the UK.

 Recent research suggests that there is a link between developing eczema and certain allergies.

The Head of Clinical Services at Allergy, UK, Amena Warner stated that “It is important for both patients and healthcare professionals to understand the connection between atopic eczema and allergy. Eczema is a common symptom which can be ‘triggered’ by irritants and allergens as well as from a genetic tendency of dry skin. As well as a symptom, it can also be the gateway to allergic sensitisation, so when the body is exposed to that allergen there is a potential for a reaction.”

Experts say it’s important to protect the skin barrier to help reduce the risk of allergen sensitivity.

Experts are of the opinion that the risk of allergen sensitivity can be reduced by protecting the skin barrier. Therefore, if you experience extreme itch or excessively sensitive, dry, inflamed or red skin, it is best to see a doctor immediately. It has been established that correct and early diagnosis improves the outcome of treating eczema and maintaining the skin barrier in optimal condition.

It is estimated that about  1.7 million children of schooling age currently suffer from eczema in the UK and between 50-70 per cent of these children were sensitized to one allergen, at least.

Some mothers and caregivers are of the opinion that early diagnosis can help to drastically reduce the suffering experienced by these children. In the words of Natalie Newman, mother of 5 year old Calum who has eczema and multiple allergies, “ Calum’s multiple allergies started from a really early age. His eczema was one of the key indicators that something wasn’t right. It took a long time for us to get a diagnosis and Calum now has to avoid 15 foods plus reduce exposure to multiple airborne triggers. His eczema still causes him a lot of distress when he experiences a bad flare up. I cannot stress how important it is for new parents to track their child’s symptoms and discuss them with their GP.”

Aside the physical discomfort and irritation caused by eczema, it can also have a deflating effect on one’s perception of self. Children who have eczema have been known to show signs of low self-esteem and confidence. In the UK, an estimated 52 per cent of adults have neck and head eczema while about 50 per cent have it on areas that can be easily seen, especially the hands.

The use of emollients on the skin is recommended by Allergy London even when eczema hasn’t been diagnosed. Emollients serve to maintain moisturized state of the skin and also prevent any skin flare up in the future.

Certain modifications to diet can also help alleviate the condition; foods like wheat and cow’s milk should be excluded from the diet.

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