Skin

Updated 31 July 2017

Eczema can be worse for adults

This chronic skin condition may interfere with daily life, and symptoms can be even harder for adults to deal with.

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Many people believe that eczema mainly occurs in childhood and is likely to clear up as a child grows older. However, this itchy skin condition sometimes takes a heavier toll on adults than children, an expert says.

According to a Health24 article, eczema is a chronic skin disease caused by inflammation of the skin and its inability to retain adequate moisture.

The result is a dry and very troublesome rash and intense itching, which may occur on almost any part of the body.

'It's not just eczema'

"Adult eczema patients may have dealt with their symptoms for their entire lives, which can be draining, or they may experience symptoms for the first time as adults, which can be a difficult adjustment," said Dr Jonathan Silverberg, an assistant professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

"Either way, this condition can take a real toll on them," added Dr Silverberg, who is also a director of Northwestern's Multidisciplinary Eczema Center. Some people mistakenly regard eczema as a childhood disease and not a serious health problem for adults, he said.

"People who aren't familiar with the disease might say, 'It's just eczema.' But for many patients, it's not 'just eczema'. It can be debilitating," Dr Silverberg said in a news release from the American Academy of Dermatology.

what does eczema on skin look like?

A close-up example of an eczema rash on the skin.

The intense itching and dry, red patches of skin can make daily tasks and physical activities difficult, he said. Some evidence suggests it leads to poorer job performance, disrupts sleep, and contributes to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, he explained.

Eczema is not contagious

Also, someone with visible eczema may feel social stigma if others incorrectly believe the disease is contagious or associated with poor hygiene, Dr Silverberg said.

"Fortunately for patients, treatment can help alleviate the negative effects of this disease and improve their physical and mental well-being," he added.

Treatment regimens include topical steroids, moisturisers, phototherapy or systemic medications.

Also, the US Food and Drug Administration recently approved two new eczema treatments: an anti-inflammatory topical medication for mild to moderate conditions and an injectable drug for tougher cases, according to Dr Silverberg.

Images supplied by iStock

 

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Skin expert

Dr Suretha Kannenberg holds a degree in Medicine and a Masters in Dermatology from the University of Stellenbosch. She is employed as a consultant dermatologist by Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital, where she is involved in clinical duties and the training of medical students and dermatology residents. Her areas of interest and research include vitiligo, eczema and acne. She also performs limited private practice work in the Northern suburbs of Cape Town in general and cosmetic dermatology.

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