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Eczema is a condition that causes the skin to become itchy, red, dry and cracked. It is a long-term (chronic) condition in most people, although it can improve over time, especially in children.

Symptoms include:

  • Patches of chronically itchy, dry, thickened skin, usually on the hands, neck, face, and legs (but it can occur anywhere). In children, the inner creases of the knees and elbows are often involved

  • If scratched, dry patches of skin and open sores with crusts may develop and may get infected


There are a number of things that may trigger your eczema symptoms. These can vary from person to person. Common triggers include:

  • irritants – such as soaps and detergents, including shampoo, washing up liquid and bubble bath

  • environmental factors or allergens – such as cold and dry weather, dampness, and more specific things such as house dust mites, pet fur, pollen and moulds 

  • food allergies – such as allergies to cows' milk, eggs, peanuts, soya or wheat 

  • certain materials worn next to the skin – such as wool and synthetic fabrics 

  • hormonal changes – women may find their symptoms get worse in the days before their period or during pregnancy 

  • skin infections 


Some people also report their symptoms get worse when the air is dry or dusty, or when they are stressed, sweaty, or too hot or too cold.

There is no cure for atopic eczema, but treatments can ease the symptoms. Many children find their symptoms naturally improve as they get older.

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