What is Eczema?

Eczema refers to various inflamed skin conditions. Patches of skin can be red, dry and extremely itchy. It can also appear as fluid-filled bumps that ooze. Eczema commonly occurs in children and adults on the face, neck, and on the insides of elbows and knees.

A common cause of eczema is atopic dermatitis. Atopic describes a hereditary tendency to experience immediate allergic reaction to something in the environment. Typical causes include pollen, molds, animal dander and saliva, certain detergents or soaps, and contact with rough or coarse clothing. Stress and overheating can also cause flare-ups.

Eczema is fairly common with 10-20% of infants experiencing this condition. The National Institutes of Health estimate that 15 million people in America have some form of the condition. Eczema is not contagious and cannot be cured, though it does tend to decrease in severity as children get older. It can go into remission for months or years at a time.