Eczema is a very common skin condition, which causes the skin to become red, sore, itchy, inflamed and cracked. ‘Atopic eczema’ is the name of the most common form, and ‘contact eczema’ (also called ‘contact dermatitis’) is the second most common. There are effective treatments for both types of eczema, which can be applied onto your skin.
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About eczema treatment
Who can get treatment online
Adults who have been diagnosed with atopic eczema can request treatment online from Zava.
How to place your order
- Fill in our brief questionnaire about you and your health.
- Choose the treatment you want, either before you start the assessment or at the end.
- Our online Zava Doctor will check your assessment to see if treatment is right for you.
- If your order is right for you, then it can be posted to address your provide, or you can collect it from a local post office instead.
Common side effects
The most common side effects of steroid creams used to treat eczema are:
- Minor allergic reactions such as burning, stinging, redness, or irritation
- Stretch marks – especially in places where two areas of skin touch or rub together
Moisturisers (emollients) may cause stinging or irritation, but this is not common.
Eczema is a common skin condition which causes areas of your skin to become dry, itchy, red, sore, cracked and inflamed. The two most common forms of eczema are called ‘atopic eczema’ and ‘contact eczema’. Contact eczema is also called ‘contact dermatitis’.
Atopic eczema is the most common form and mostly affects children. 1 in 5 children in the UK are affected by atopic eczema at some point. It can often develop before their first birthday, but can also develop much later for the first time in adults. Symptoms can appear anywhere on your body and may be over a small or a large area.
Contact eczema is caused when your skin comes into contact with a particular substance or allergen (something that causes an allergic reaction). It can also cause your skin to blister. Symptoms usually clear up completely if the substance that caused it is avoided. Contact eczema can occur anywhere on your body but is most common on your face or hands.
Eczema is not usually a serious condition. Scratching your skin a lot can lead to infections, and cause the eczema to spread and become severe if left untreated.
Contact eczema can be short-term, as the symptoms usually clear up once the identified substance or allergen is avoided. Atopic eczema is usually a long-term condition, but can clear up completely in some children as they get older.
Other less common types of eczema include: discoid, varicose, seborrhoeic, and dyshidrotic eczema.
The exact cause of eczema isn’t known, but certain substances can trigger it and cause flare-ups. These substances are called allergens, which means they can cause allergic reactions.
The causes of eczema may be a combination of genetics and environmental factors. Anybody can get eczema, but children with parents who have allergies are more likely to develop it.
Atopic eczema causes skin to become dry, itchy, cracked, sore, inflamed and red. It often comes in flare-ups, which are periods of time when symptoms get worse. These can be as often as two or three times a month. Atopic eczema can occur anywhere on the body but is most common on the hands, the inside of the elbows or backs of the knees and on the face or scalp in children.
Symptoms vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe. Mild eczema usually causes small patches of dry skin that are occasionally itchy. Sometimes these patches may be raised.
More severe eczema may cause inflammation, itchiness, and redness across larger areas of your body. This can make it difficult to sleep or go through the day without scratching. It can also make you more likely to get skin infections.
If you think you may have eczema, speak to your GP or online doctor.
You should also get medical help as soon as possible if you may have developed a skin infection. The symptoms of a skin infection include:
- Swelling on the skin
- Your eczema getting much worse
- Yellow crust on your skin or the appearance of yellowish-white spots
- Fluid oozing from your skin
Psoriasis is another skin condition that has some symptoms similar to atopic eczema: red, itchy, and sore skin. One difference is that atopic eczema causes more intense itching.
There are different types of psoriasis, but it usually causes dry, scaly, silvery patches on the skin and can cause your joints to swell.
See our page on psoriasis treatment for more information.
The main treatments for atopic eczema are:
- Moisturisers (emollients) – used daily to treat dry skin
- Steroid creams and ointments – used during flare-ups for inflammation
You can get both of these through Zava, if our doctors think the treatment is right for you. Steroid creams should be used with moisturisers. However, moisturisers can be used on their own.
Non-medical treatment may also be an option, especially if your symptoms are mild. These may include:
- Yoga or meditation to help you relax and sleep better
- Making changes to your diet to avoid any triggers
- Dressing in soft, breathable clothing
- Keeping your room temperature comfortable
Most moisturisers don’t cause side effects. Rarely, they may cause stinging, burning, redness or irritation. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist if these don’t go away, or start to impact on your life.
Steroid creams can cause small allergic reactions such as burning, stinging, redness, or irritation to your skin. They can also give you stretch marks in places where two areas of skin touch or rub together.
Eczema can get better without medical treatment, if you can find out the things that are causing it (triggers), and avoid them. It helps to always keep your skin moisturised.
Sometimes mild eczema may not require any medical treatment, but you should speak to your GP or online doctor if your symptoms are severe or affecting your daily life.
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for eczema. But many children find their symptoms disappear or improve on their own as they get older. Eczema can get better for periods of time and can then flare up, but how often this happens is different for each person.
Dr Zenon Andreou
Dr Zenon Andreou studied medicine at University College London, graduating in 2006. His postgraduate training was in hospitals in and around London and he trained for four years in Otolaryngology before completing his training in General practice.Meet our doctors
Last reviewed: 02 Nov 2018
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