When people first experience eczema, they may notice that their skin has become red, itchy and dry. In addition to this, the skin may take on a somewhat scaly appearance or may crack and split. Whilst many people want to know how to handle the symptoms of the condition, they also tend to ask, does eczema go away?
The most common form of eczema is known as atopic dermatitis which is a chronic condition and tends to affect individuals on a long-term basis. Often starting in childhood, this form of eczema may continue into later life, although some children do appear to ‘grow out’ of the condition. Similarly, dyshidrotic eczema is a chronic condition which may return throughout the course of the patient’s life.
Although atopic dermatitis eczema does not typically go away, it can be managed well and the condition may go into remission, meaning that the patient will not be symptomatic. Although flare-ups are not uncommon, effective management can prevent symptoms from being present.
Other forms of eczema can often be treated in their entirety. Allergic contact eczema tends to occur when the individual comes into contact with someone which causes an allergic reaction, for example. Providing the individual does not come into contact with the allergen again, the symptoms of eczema should not reappear. Whilst the individual may remain allergic to the particular substances, they can avoid the symptoms of allergic contact eczema.
When patients have atopic dermatitis eczema, they may have a number of symptoms. These can include:
If patients have dyshidrotic eczema, they may also have small blisters on their hands or feet. Whilst dyshidrotic eczema is normally limited to the hands or feet, atopic dermatitis can appear anywhere on the body. Most common on the crooks of the elbows or knees, atopic dermatitis eczema can also affect the back, legs, arms, face, and scalp.
Eczema can have different causes but physicians are still unable to give a definitive answer as to what causes the condition. It is believed that there are various factors which can contribute to eczema, such as:
Our immune systems are crucial to our survival and work to fight off bacteria and viruses. In some cases, however, the immune system can target the wrong types of tissues. If the immune system wrongly targets the body’s own tissues, it can cause a range of health conditions. It has been suggested that atopic dermatitis eczema occurs because the immune system wrongly targets the body’s tissues, believing them to be potentially dangerous.
In addition to this, many physicians maintain that there is a genetic cause for eczema. Certainly, studies have shown that an individual is more likely to develop eczema if other family members have the condition, or if they suffer from allergies, hay fever and/or asthma.
Whilst atopic dermatitis eczema is not an allergy, our environment may be a causative factor and can contribute to flare-ups of the condition. People living in cold climates tend to have a higher risk of developing the condition, for example.
Alternatively, a thin skin barrier may be to blame. When functioning properly, our skin’s barrier allows moisture to leave our bodies via the skin and prevent bacteria from entering through the skin. If this barrier is too thin or fails to work properly, it may allow too much moisture to leave. As a result, the skin becomes dry and dehydrated. Subsequently, cracks and splits may appear in the skin, followed by the redness and irritation associated with the condition.
Whilst these are believed to be the main causes of atopic dermatitis eczema, there are many more factors which can cause a flare-up of the condition. People with eczema may have very sensitive skin and exposure to certain substances, such as harsh chemicals, can exacerbate their symptoms.
Although it’s important for patients to know what has caused their condition, it’s also vital for them to determine what causes their eczema to flare-up so that they’re able to minimize the symptoms.
Does eczema go away and how can it be treated?
Moisturizing creams and lotions are the first-line treatment for eczema, although individuals may need to obtain prescription-strength moisturizers. Also known as emollients, these can be used on a long-term basis and will add moisture to the skin. Many emollients are also barrier creams, which prevent bacteria from entering the body via broken or cracked skin.
Similarly, prescription-strength bath oil can be extremely effective in reducing the symptoms of eczema. As people with atopic dermatitis tend to have very dry skin, adding oil to a bath can help to replace moisture. Patients with eczema should limit themselves to brief baths or showers, however, and should use warm or lukewarm water to wash. Hot water or long baths can dry the skin out and may, therefore, exacerbate their symptoms.
Steroids can also be used to reduce the inflammation associated with eczema. Although they are commonly used as a topical ointment, they can be prescribed as a tablet or capsule, if necessary. In addition to this, antihistamines may be used to relieve the itching caused by atopic dermatitis and can help to minimize the discomfort associated with the condition.
It may not be possible to prevent patients from developing eczema but flare-ups can certainly be prevented. By using emollients on a regular basis, patients can ensure their skin is well-moisturized and not excessively dry. Similarly, avoiding irritants can help to prevent symptoms from re-emerging and will help to ensure that the patient stays in remission for as long as possible.