eczema skinA common and chronic skin condition, eczema causes red, itchy skin. Depending upon the severity of your eczema, as well as the triggers, going about your daily routine with cracked, dry and extremely itchy skin can be physically and emotionally uncomfortable.

While there is no cure for eczema, your dermatologist can help you understand the triggers and develop a treatment plan to manage your eczema.

What is Eczema?

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic, itchy inflammation of the skin. It appears as dry, reddish or brown patches in folds of the skin – behind the knees or on the inside of elbows – or on the face, neck, hands or feet.  There may also be small bumps that ooze and crust over.

Types of Eczema

  • Childhood eczema – itchy, scaly rash, over time skin may look thickened, skin lightens or darkens at site (1)
  • Adult eczema – reactivates from childhood, often a milder form, but can cause dry, non-stop itchy skin, scaling, infection,  noticeable around eyes, on neck ,  face and hands (2)

What are the Causes of Eczema?

  • Defects in genes that maintain skin’s barrier function
  • Environmental allergies

Common Triggers

  • Sweating
  • Hot baths
  • Dry, cold weather
  • Wool clothing
  • Harsh products
  • Allergies

Who is Affected by Eczema?

  • 10-20% of children (3) 
  • 1-3 % of adults (4
  • Those with a family history of eczema, asthma or hay fever

Related problems

  • Self consciousness
  • Frustration
  • Secondary infection (bacterial or viral)
  • Sleep problems
  • Work absence
  • Depression

Potential Eczema Treatments

  • Over-the-counter preparations – moisturizers, antihistamines, coal tar products
  • Prescription medications – corticosteroids, calcineurin inhibitors, antibiotics
  • Procedures – ultraviolet light therapy

Note: Certain treatments for medical conditions that are considered to be elective and/or cosmetic are not covered by Medical Services Plan of BC.


Patient Resources

American Academy of Dermatology
Canadian Dermatology Association
The Eczema Society of Canada
“If I Had  – A Child With Itchy, Red Skin” (video)
(1-4) American Academy of Dermatology

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