Eczema is a long-term condition that affects the skin. It can also be referred to as dermatitis. Mild cases of eczema will cause the skin to become dry and itchy. It may also become scaly and red. In more severe cases of eczema, the skin may present with crusting, weeping or bleeding.
Eczema is a common skin condition affecting approximately one in every five children. The condition is slightly less common in adults, only affecting one in every twelve. As these statistics suggest, a significant number of children will ‘grow out’ of eczema during their teenage years.
The skin on our bodies is designed to provide a protective barrier against irritants and infections. It consists of three layers; a thin outer layer (epidermis), an elastic middle layer (dermis) and a fatty inner layer (hypodermis). All three layers contain skin cells, water and fats that help maintain and protect the condition of the skin.
Someone who suffers with eczema may not produce sufficient fats and oils to properly maintain these skin layers. This will also reduce the skin’s ability to retain water, causing the skin cells to become dry and cracked. This dryness can lead to tiny gaps opening up in the skin, making it easier for irritants and bacteria to penetrate its surface. It’s these irritants that cause the skin to become damaged, red and inflamed. This can lead to the sufferer scratching and splitting the skin open, causing it to bleed and leaving the wound open to infection.