Eczema is a very common skin condition which affects individuals worldwide; the other name for eczema is dermatitis. The National Institutes of Health estimates that more than 15 million individuals in the United States have some form of eczema; and this number is an underestimate because many individuals have not been diagnosed with the disorder.

Estimates indicate that about 10-20% of infants develop eczema. Eczema may be seen as early as age 2-3. In the majority of these infants, the eczema spontaneously resolves with time. In the unlucky few, the condition remains and becomes chronic. Most teenagers who had eczema in childhood are free of the disorder by age 15.

The condition typically presents with skin dryness and itching. There are several different types of dermatitis, and the most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis. Atopy refers to conditions that are associated with asthma and hay fever.

Although there is no known cause for the skin disorder, it is known to occur more often in individuals with a family history of allergies.

Eczema can occur on just about any part of the body; however, in infants, the eczema is generally seen on the forehead along the scalp and hair line, cheeks, forearms, neck and on the thighs. In adults, eczema typically occurs on the insides of the elbows, knees, and ankles.

The skin always appears dry and scratch marks are common. The intensity of the itch can be moderate to severe and in many cases; the itch occurs at night and prevents sleep. When eczema is chronic, it never disappears completely but the disorder may wax and wane throughout life

Eczema has many triggers and almost anything that comes into contact with the skin has the potential to cause a flare up. The eczematous skin always appears dry, red, flaky and may also be associated with varying intensity of a burn sensation.

The condition is annoying, frustrating and irritable. There is no cure for eczema and most available treatments are only partially effective.

For mild eczema, anti histamines and moisturizing agents are used. When the eczema is severe, topical corticosteroids may be required. Prevention of eczema is the key to control.

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