Updated: Sep 18, 2020
Approximately 10% of people will experience eczema during their lifetime. Eczema (aka Atopic Dermatitis) is something I come across at the clinic on a daily basis of people of all ages. It is a genetic condition that is caused by a barrier disruption to the skin that can result in a dry, itchy inflammatory and very uncomfortable situation.
Typically, eczema is thought of as a condition that affects children, but this could not be any further from the truth. One out of five children (infants – toddlers) will have some manifestation of the disease, and usually, it is known to improve with age. However, many seniors are experiencing dry, itchy skin which often results in an office visit to their dermatologist. Though it is proven that 1 out of 10 people are at risk of developing eczema in their lives. The risk is now known to increase in childhood, calm down and then flare again the older you get.
Eczema can affect anyone at any age and can wax and wane throughout a person’s lifetime. The skin loses water as we age and its ability to hold moisture is compromised. The thin, drying, sensitive skin of this disease can overact to certain triggers. Exacerbating factors can play a role such as water, weather, certain products and even stress (inflammatory response). If you already have a genetic barrier disruption, then you have an increased risk of irritants and contact allergens that can get absorbed into the skin which makes the condition worse. Treatments can include avoidance of exacerbating factors, the use of appropriate soaps and moisturizers, topical corticosteroids, and even immunotherapy drugs as needed. Education about eczema vs. allergic causation (food, laundry detergent, fragrance, etc.) should be discussed with a medical professional and patch testing can even be performed to rule out an allergic trigger.
Honestly, I do not know anyone with some level of “dryness” to their skin. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have eczema. But something as simple as utilizing a moisturizer, especially after bathing, can make a difference to this dryness. In my own experience and observation at least 50% of people do not use one on a daily basis. Instead, it is usually used on an “as needed” quick fix basis because people experience a dry patch or itch. However, this is not how moisturizers were intended to be used as they should be used daily for the best results. There are so many personal care products on the market to choose from, but many people don’t use what is appropriate for their skin or use them correctly for the best benefit.
Bottom line, it is important to utilize the appropriate moisturizer daily and more importantly that you never diagnose yourself. Always seek professional medical attention for a skin condition that is not improving with any over-the-counter treatments. Be Skin Savvy!