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Does Eczema Change with Age?

eczema on the armAlthough eczema affects all ages, it usually appears in early childhood especially in babies between the ages of two to six months. Around 90% of eczema cases occur before the age of five. The condition is most common in people with a family history of an atopic disorder, including asthma or hay fever. The good news is that in many sufferers, the eczema will disappear at around 6 years. Half of all children affected will be almost clear by then.

So yes, eczema does change with age

However, about one in four children affected will continue to experience outbreaks of eczema (even severe) into adulthood. In other cases, adults develop the condition for the first time.

What is eczema?

The term eczema refers to a number of different skin conditions of which the most common is atopic dermatitis in which the skin is red and irritated and sometimes results in small, fluid-filled bumps that become moist and ooze.

What is atopic?

The word "atopic" describes conditions that occur when someone is extra sensitive to allergens in their daily life. These can be pollens, molds, dust, animal dander, perfumes and even certain foods. Atopic is also the word used to describe other allergic but connected conditions such as asthma and hay fever. The word "dermatitis" means that the skin is inflamed, or red and sore.

Eczema is a chronic skin condition

But as children grow older, the typical eczema rash is usually less oozy but more scaly while the skin can be extremely itchy and dry. Unfortunately, these symptoms appear with periodic flare ups - whatever the age. Although eczema can be severe in childhood but with dramatic improvements in the teen years – even disappearing completely - many people with eczema can experience periodic outbreaks throughout their lives, often because of dry skin or exposure to allergens. blog image - eczema poster

Eczema in the over 40s

Even if flare-ups disappear by this age, most former eczema sufferers remain prone to dry skin. It often appears in the creases of body joints, such as the backs of the knees or inside the elbows while in dark skin tones, the eczema can affect the front of the knees and elbows. Those children who ‘out grow’ eczema can continue to have ‘sensitive’ skin as adults. Even having the condition of varicose veins can increase the risk of venous eczema. Adult onset eczema can often be more difficult to treat and may be caused by other factors such as medications.

Remember that dry skin needs constant and regular moisturizing

Moisturizing is the best way to combat eczema along with dealing with the constant intense itching that can disrupt the sleep as well as other health issues such as:
  • Constant scratching can cause scarring.
  • Scratching can also lead to infection of the skin, particularly when there is inflamed skin with open sores.
Even dandruff can be a form of eczema and that can affect people of all ages. Whatever the age, spontaneous flare-ups are often the result of triggers. Triggers are not the same for everyone, but these are some of the more common ones:
  • Soap and detergents
  • Skin Infection
  • House-dust mites and their droppings
  • Animal dander (fur and hair) and saliva
  • Pollens
  • Overheating or extreme cold
  • Rough clothing
As people age, the connection between eczema and stress becomes more apparent although it is not yet clear whether the stress causes the eczema or vice versa.