I recently found traces of rough skin on one of my arms after scratching. Is this a sign or eczema? What causes eczema and what should I do to cure and prevent this?
Rough skin, especially on the arms of one who belongs to the older age group, is not necessarily eczema. Eczema is a skin condition characterised by the presence of inflammation – which manifests as redness, scaling, small grouped red bumps, and sometimes even small water vesicles on the skin. You need to have some of the above-mentioned features before your skin condition can be diagnosed as eczema.
In layman terms, eczema is a condition characterised by “sensitivity” of the skin and the factors that trigger sensitive skin to react are often environmental, such as dryness, exposure to heat and dust, and using soaps that contain harsh chemicals. There is also a genetic component to eczema and this is known as endogenous eczema, the most common type of eczema.
There is often no cure for endogenous eczema, but up to 50% of patients who have eczema during their childhood will grow out of it. If eczema appears in adulthood, it will often last a lifetime.
Eczema can also occur due to an allergic reaction to certain substances in the environment, such as rubber or nickel. However, this form of eczema is not as common as the endogenous type.
Eczema can be managed and controlled with the use of topical medicated creams like steroid creams and with the consistent and regular use of moisturisers. Avoiding some of those trigger factors mentioned above is also important.
Eczema is almost always itchy and this itch can be managed with the use of antihistamines or other physical measures.
To determine if you have eczema, you will need to let a doctor or a dermatologist examine your skin. The doctor will look at the appearance of your skin and identify the possible causes of the skin dryness. If the skin dryness is due to ageing skin, all you need to do is moisturise your skin well and avoid using harsh soaps.
If eczema is diagnosed, you may also need to apply medicated creams and arrange follow-ups with your doctor.
Dr Ang Chee Beng
Ang Skin & Hair Clinic