Itching, Patches of scaly and Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)
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Eczema is a catchall word for a number of skin conditions that cause a very itchy, red rash.

The most common form of eczema is atopic dermatitis, or AD. People with AD develop an intensely itchy skin rash that tends to come and go over time. It can affect any part of the body, but is most common on the neck, wrists, ankles, hands and the insides of the knees and elbows. Babies and young children young children with AD usually develop a rash on their faces and scalps.

AD isn't contagious, and it's usually not dangerous in itself. However, the intense itching makes it very uncomfortable to live with. Scratching the rash only intensifies the inflammation and can also cause complications like skin infections. Over time, scratching can cause thick, discolored patches to form on the skin – a condition called neurodermatitis. In rare cases, severe eczema on the face can cause permanent damage to the eyes. Treating AD early and practicing good skin care is essential to prevent these problems from developing.

The AD rash varies from person to person, and can even look different on different body parts of the same person. Common signs include:
-- Patches of discolored skin that range from red to grayish-brown. The rash may appear suddenly.
-- Itching, which may be quite intense, especially at night.
-- Little raised bumps that may ooze fluid or crust over.
-- Patches of scaly, thickened, or leathery skin.
-- Raw or sensitive spots caused by scratching.

Atopic dermatitis usually recurs in flare-ups with symptom-free periods in between. These "remissions" can last weeks, months, or even years.

Home Remedies
Wash new clothes before wearing. This helps remove formaldehyde and other potentially irritating chemicals used to treat fabrics.

Rinse twice. Even if you use a mild laundry detergent, it's a good idea to rinse your clothes twice to make sure all of the soap is removed.

Wear loose, natural-fabric clothing. You want your skin to be able to "breathe," so choose loose-fitting, open-weave, cotton or cotton-blend clothes.

Keep temperatures constant. Abrupt temperature changes (hot to cold or vice versa) can irritate the skin, so try to avoid them whenever possible. Try to maintain constant humidity levels in your home, too.

Keep your fingernails trimmed. It's hard to scratch effectively, and therefore hard to cause further damage to your sensitive skin, if your fingernails are short.

Hydrate your skin with a bath or shower. Use warm, not hot, water, and soak or shower for at least 15 or 20 minutes. Avoid using a washcloth because it's abrasive.

Use soap only where necessary. Choose a gentle soap, such as Dove, Oiltum, Alpha Keri, Neutrogena, Purpose, or Basis; a nonsoap cleanser, such as Aveeno or Emulave; or a liquid cleaner, such as Moisturel, Neutrogena, or Dove. Rinse thoroughly, gently pat away excess moisture, and then apply moisturizer to your damp skin to seal in the water. Plain petroleum jelly is the best after-bath sealant.

Because atopic dermatitis is probably a genetic condition, there's no way to prevent it. However, if you do have AD, take these steps to help prevent flares and complications:
-- Establish a skin care routine. Regularly apply a moisturizer with an ointment base (like petrolatum) to help relieve skin dryness and prevent cracking.
-- When bathing, use warm water and mild soap and scrub the skin gently.
-- Know the signs of skin infection and seek treatment promptly if they appear.
-- Practice positive stress management. Time management, exercise, mind-body practices, and talking to a friend are all positive ways to deal with emotions. A good counselor or psychologist can also help.
-- Find ways to decrease scratching. Some people scratch less when their hands are busy with an activity or when they surround themselves with others.
-- Use makeup and sunscreen designed especially for people with sensitive skin.

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