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Is Eczema Blighting Your Life?

by AXA PPP healthcare(more info)

listed in skincare, originally published in issue 255 - June 2019


Atopic eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is the most common form of eczema. It mainly affects children, but can also affect adults. Eczema is a condition that causes the skin to become itchy, red, dry and cracked. About 1 in 5 children in the UK has atopic eczema. In 8 out of 10 cases, the condition develops before a child reaches the age of 5. Many children develop it before their first birthday.




Atopic eczema can improve significantly, or even clear completely, in some children as they get older. About half of all cases improve a lot by the time a child reaches 11 years, and around two-thirds improve by the age of 16. However, the condition can continue into adulthood and can sometimes develop for the first time in adults.

Atopic eczema can affect any part of the body, but the most common areas to be affected are:

  • Backs or fronts of the knees
  • Outside or inside of the elbows
  • Around the neck
  • Hands
  • Cheeks
  • Scalp

People with atopic eczema (or atopic dermatitis) usually have periods when symptoms are less noticeable, as well as periods when symptoms become more severe (flare-ups); atopic describing sensitivity to allergens:

  • As you may be aware the skin is made up of three layers: the top layer epidermis (top layer), dermis (middle layer) and subcutaneous layer (the bottom layer);
  • Normally the skin cells in the upper (epidermal) layer are tightly packed so they help create a barrier, but with eczema, the layers do not provide the normal barrier function. This can lead to exposure to the elements and so produce inflammation;
  • During flare ups of eczema the skin becomes red, inflamed and itchy. This inflammation process can lead to swelling of the skin which can produce tiny blisters, which can then rupture;
  • Inflamed skin can be very itchy, and prolonged rubbing and scratching leads to thickening of the epidermis making the skin appear thick and leathery;
  • Unfortunately there is no cure for eczema - it is a matter of avoiding allergens and preventing the skin from becoming dry by using medical moisturisers;
  • Different people react to different allergens so you need to find out what you are allergic to and try and avoid it;
  • It may be a good idea to see your GP to review your eczema treatments and also to possibly discuss allergy testing to try to determine what triggers your eczema.

What can Aggravate your Eczema?

  • Extremes in temperature;
  • Irritants such as sweat, soap, detergents, shower gels, bubble baths and water;
  • Stress;
  • Infections, either bacterial or viral;
  • Things that you may be allergic to such as food, the material your underwear is made from or any other substances your skin may be in contact with;
  • Friction from tight clothing;

How can you Treat Eczema?

  • During flare ups, applying steroid creams help to reduce the inflammation;
  • Hydrocortisone is a mild strength steroid which can be used with or without the addition of anti-bacterial or anti-yeast agents for mild attacks or when the inflammation is reduced after a severe attack. They can be used for short periods intermittently;
  • Eumovate is a moderately potent steroid which is useful for reducing severe attacks;
  • Alternatively for a very severe flare up your doctor may prescribe an even stronger steroid cream, such as Betnovate (Betametasone valerate).

Further Information

For more information on eczema, please visit AXA PPP healthcare


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About AXA PPP healthcare

AXA PPP healthcare – one of the largest and most experienced health insurance providers in the UK – has been helping people to access healthcare services since 1940. Today it forms the UK healthcare arm of AXA and provides cover for medical and dental care for individuals and employers, and employee wellbeing, counselling, occupational health and rehabilitation services through its Health Services division. AXA PPP healthcare has been named Best Healthcare Provider at the Corporate Adviser Awards 2017, Moneyfacts 2016 Best Healthcare Service and Health Insurance Provider of the Year, the European Large Contact Centre of the Year (at the European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards, 2015) and Best Customer Experience (in the Large Contact Centre category of the UK Customer Experience Awards 2015).

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