What is Eczema?

Eczema (also known as dermatitis) is a very common dry skin condition that can affect people of all ages. It causes dry, red and itchy skin. In babies, often the face is affected with small patches elsewhere. In children, often the body creases are affected (knees, elbows, wrists and ankles). In adults all body areas can be affected. Itching at times can be unbearable. Eczema is not contagious, so you cannot catch it from someone else.

Eczema is a challenging condition to live with. When it flares-up, the skin becomes red, weepy and very itchy. In between flares the skin calms down, but continues to be dry and itchy. Itchiness of the skin leads to scratching and constant scratching causes damage to the skin, which becomes a vicious cycle.

Eczema affects around 5-20% of children worldwide. Those who “grow out” of their eczema during early childhood may see it recur again later in life. In the UK, one in five children and one in twelve adults have eczema, while eczema and contact dermatitis account for 84-90% of occupational skin diseases.

What is the Eczema Advice Programme about?