Eczema is a form of dermatitis, or inflammation of the upper layers of the skin. The term eczema is broadly applied to a range of persistent or recurring skin rashes characterised by redness, itching and dryness, with possible scaling in more advanced stages. It is not a contagious skin condition and cannot be spread from one person to another.
It can be hard to resist scratching the skin but doing so can open the skin and lead to infection and bleeding. There are a number of types of eczema. Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema and often begins in childhood. One in five children in the Canada is affected by atopic dermatitis. It is most common in children but can affect people of all ages. Whilst many children grow out of eczema they may have a tendency to dry, sensitive skin in adulthood. It is also possible for the eczema to recur during adulthood and so it is important to maintain a treatment regimen designed to prevent the skin becoming too dry. Other types of eczema include allergic contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis. Recognizing the correct type of eczema is a crucial part of producing an effective treatment plan.