Ask Dr Lucinda Tan (National Skin Centre): Eczema

DoctorxDentist Session held on 31 August 2018.

The National Skin Centre (NSC) is an outpatient specialist dermatological centre with a team of dermatologists who have the experience and expertise to treat every skin condition. They are a public health institution and a member of the National Healthcare Group (NHG).

To learn more about eczema, head down to National Skin Centre's public forum on Eczema on 27 October 2018 to find out more

Dr Lucinda Tan, a consultant from NSC, answered questions on: 

  • Causes of eczema
  • How to curb eczema itching
  • Treatment options for eczema

What causes eczema?

Dear Jing She, 

Eczema is a very common skin condition in Singapore, but the underlying cause varies between individuals. Most commonly, there is a genetic predisposition to having dry skin.

When the skin is dry, it allows for tiny gaps (not visible to the naked eye) in the skin to develop. This results in loss of moisture from the skin to the environment (inside out) and entry of allergens (substances which promote allergy) and bacteria into the skin (outside in).

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Is eczema contagious?

Dear Hai Chang, 

Please be rest assured that eczema is not contagious. You will not get eczema from being in contact with a person having eczema. However, most individuals with eczema have an underlying genetic predisposition.

Since both your children share similar genes, they may have genes which make them prone to developing allergies and dry skin, but show varying degrees of dryness and eczema between them.

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What’s the difference between eczema and atopic dermatitis?

Hi Jimmy, 

Yes and no. Eczema is defined as a chronic itchy inflammatory skin disease. There are many causes for eczema and it is labelled accordingly. For example, if it is due to an irritating environmental cause, it can be called contact eczema. Atopy is a group of diseases including eczema, allergic rhinitis and asthma. 

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How to curb itching caused by eczema?

Dear Andrea,

Itch is an important part of eczema as we know scratching damages the skin, resulting in more gaps and allowing for bacteria to enter, leading to infections.

There are a few ways to help with itch symptoms:

1. Moisturize frequently and liberally

2. Wipe off sweat and then reapply moisturizers if possible

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Should someone with eczema avoid certain foods?

Hi Jian Hua, 

There are many causes for eczema, mostly due to a genetic predisposition. We consider food allergy causing skin rashes if the child has recently tried the food (usually during the weaning periods) and has demonstrated consistent skin rashes every time that particular food is introduced.

It is unusual to gain a food allergy if the child has been eating the same food for a long period of time without any skin or gut problems. 

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Will eczema go away completely?

Dear Imelda, 

This is a common question which many patients with childhood eczema ask. Usually, if the eczema is well controlled in childhood, with infrequent flares, there is a good chance of outgrowing eczema as the child gets older.

However, if the eczema was severe or poorly controlled, resulting in skin changes, it may be difficult to get rid of eczema completely in adulthood. However, we can still aim for good control with minimal flares.

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What are the best treatment options for eczema in Singapore?

Dear Sheng Yi, 

This is the one advice I give to all my patients: moisturise, moisturise, moisturise. As dry skin is the key driving force behind eczema, the main strategy for treating eczema would be to moisturize the skin regularly.

Use gentle cleansers and moisturizers to prevent skin dryness. Avoid cleansers and moisturizers with fragrances or harsh preservatives which can irritate the skin.

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How do I find the best doctor to cure eczema in Singapore?

Hi Shermaine, 

You should always find a doctor that you are comfortable asking questions and allowing him/her to examine your skin. You may consider recommendations by friends / family or a clinic’s track record before making an appointment.

Read more > 


Also read: 8 Dermatologist Clinics in Singapore for Your Skin Concerns (2020)


 

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