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By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute

There are several different kinds of eczema. The causes of eczema are hereditary conditions, dry skin, allergy and infections. There is no treatment that can cure eczema. However, there are different treatments that soothes. Their own doctor with a corticosteroid crème treats most people with eczema.

Eczema is not one but several different illnesses. The three most common kinds of eczema are scaly eczema, contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis.

Scaly eczema appears by plenty of scale in the face, scalp and on the chest. Most frequently seen with infants in the age of 3 to 6 months and with adults in the age of 30 to 60 years. Hormones in the blood and fungal infection leads to scaly eczema.

Contact dermatitis is a reaction to the touching of different substances. It can be an allergic reaction or an irritant reaction. If you are allergic to nickel, contact dermatitis arises when you touch objects that contain nickel. All who come into contact with acid develops eczema – this is and irritant reaction not allergy. Contact dermatitis is most frequently located on the hands where red itchy blisters appear. Typically, contact eczema is seen with women in the age of 20 to 40 years.

Atopic eczema is seen with 15 to 20% of all children. A very dry skin and allergy are critical for the development of atopic eczema. Atopic dermatitis is located in face, elbow crease and hollow of the knees. The skin is itchy, red and thickens. With 9 out of 10, atopic dermatitis disappears before the children start school.

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What can you do?

Skin care with moisturizer without perfume is always important. Especially, in the case of atopic dermatitis, daily use of moisturizer is important. Bathing your skin in oil is also good for dry skin. A daily brief shower and soaping of the skin can prevent infection in an eczema. If you know that certain substances worsen your eczema then of course you should try to avoid them.

If you receive treatment with corticosteroid crème, it is important that you follow the plan the doctor has ordered. Prolonged use of corticosteroid can harm your skin.

What can your doctor do?

Only the very few get completely writ of their eczema. If you in spite of your own treatment are bothered by the eczema, you can contact your general practitioner.

The doctor can, based on the looks of your eczema and a few tests, determine what kind of eczema you have. With a skin prick test and some blood samples, your doctor can examine whether you have any allergies.

The doctor can prescribe corticosteroid crème that can suppress the eczema. There is no treatment that can cure you. In the case of scaly eczema, the doctor can prescribe medication against fungal infection – it can be medicinal shampoo or tablets.

In some cases, the eczema is infected with bacteria. If this happens, your eczema worsens and becomes watery. Then, the doctor can prescribe an antibiotic crème or in particularly widespread cases prescribe antibiotics as tablets or mixture.

What can a specialist doctor do?

If your own doctor’s treatment does not calm the eczema, the doctor refers you to a dermatologist.

Many people with contact dermatitis are referred to a dermatologist with regard to finding out what substance they are allergic to.

The dermatologist can order certain baths, treatment with light and another special medication.

In the case of contact dermatitis, the dermatologist can examine what substances you are allergic to – a so-called patch test.

Children with severe eczema who does not react to ordinary medication are examined for foodstuff allergy. If the child has foodstuff allergy, a special diet is adviced. Foodstuff allergy with children is first and foremost about allergies towards milk from cows, eggs and peanuts, but also soy and fish among other things.