Have you ever seen a young child with red, itchy, and sometimes scaly patches of skin? If so, you’ve probably seen eczema—and children aren’t the only ones who get it. Eczema is more common in children, but people of any age may be affected by it. Though not considered to be a dangerous condition, eczema is certainly irritating and tough to live with.
Eczema and Its Causes
Eczema is actually a general term that refers to several types of conditions in which the skin becomes inflamed. The most common form of eczema is atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis is a chronic condition and a person with the condition may have occasional flare-ups. There is no cure for eczema.
Eczema is caused by a gene variation that makes the skin unable to protect itself from things like allergens and bacteria and also prevents the skin from retaining moisture the way it should. The condition is most common in people with a family history of the disease or a family history of allergies, asthma, or hay fever.
Symptoms of Eczema
There is a great deal of variation in symptoms from one person to the next. Some symptoms a person with eczema may experience are:
- Itchiness, which can be severe and may occur more at night.
- Dry skin.
- Skin that is thick, scaly, and cracked.
- Raised bumps that may burst when scratched and then scab over.
- Brownish-gray or red patches of skin.
- Skin that is raw and sensitive from scratching.
- If your parent develops symptoms that are so severe that they affect their ability to enjoy regular activities or they have trouble sleeping, they should see a doctor. Also, if the skin becomes infected or if your parent has a fever, a visit to the doctor is warranted.
Living with Eczema
There are many ways that eczema symptoms can be managed at home. Some things to try include:
- Applying Hydrocortisone Cream: Use an over the counter cream containing a minimum of one percent hydrocortisone to ease itching. The cream should be applied no more than twice daily.
- Moisturize: Your parent should use skin moisturizers twice a day. If they have difficulty applying moisturizer to some areas of the body, an elderly care provider can help.
- Avoid Scratching: Discourage your parent from scratching the area. Gentle pressure may help relieve the itch without breaking the skin. If your parent can’t stop scratching, try covering the area with a bandage. An elderly care provider can assist by pressing the area or applying bandages.
- Take an Oatmeal Bath: A warm bath with colloidal oatmeal may soothe the skin. An elderly care provider can help your parent by preparing the bath and helping them get safely in and out of the bathtub.
If your parent’s symptoms persist even after trying home remedies, it may be time to see the doctor. The doctor may be able to suggest additional strategies for managing symptoms. They might also
prescribe medications to treat the condition.
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