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THE BASICS OF ECZEMA: everything you need to know

Updated: Dec 26, 2021

What is eczema?

Eczema is a group of conditions in which the skin becomes inflamed, forms blisters, and becomes crusty, thick and scaly. It can cause burning and itching, and occur over a long period of time.

One in ten individuals will develop eczema during their lifetime, with prevalence peaking in early childhood.

In Hong Kong, one in five people suffers from eczema at different periods of their life. It is the most common paediatric skin disease, affecting 30% of children in Hong Kong, and 15% worldwide.

Eczema has become increasingly common, especially among more developed and populous cities, such as Hong Kong. However, many people are grossly uneducated or misinformed about this autoimmune disease.


There are many different types of eczema in children and adults, which are usually caused by different triggers. You might have one of these 7 types of dermatitis, or a combination of several.

Contact dermatitis is a type of eczema which occurs as a result of contact with irritants or allergens in the environment. It’s split into two different triggers: Allergic and Irritant

Allergic contact dermatitis is triggered by allergies or sensitivities to the environment, while Irritant contact dermatitis is triggered by direct contact with substances or materials.

Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema (dermatitis), and is characterized by dry skin, itching, and flaky/scaly textured skin.

Seborrhoeic dermatitis occurs when inflammation occurs as a reaction to excess yeast. It is usually seen in infants, in areas with many oil-producing glands.

Dyshidrotic dermatitis (pompholyx dermatitis) is characterized by small, itchy blisters on the hands and feet. Its cause is unknown, but runs in the family.

Neurodermatitis is confined rashes that are thick and leathery. They appear in patches, and those who suffer from neurodermatitis are most susceptible to a severe itch-scratch cycle.

Stasis dermatitis is developed due to poor circulation in the legs. Its symptoms can be swollen feet, discoloration of skin, itching, and dryness.

Nummular Eczema (discoid dermatitis) causes circular, oozing patches on the skin. It resembles symptoms of psoriasis and ringworm, and causes those who suffer from nummular eczema more prone to infections such as staph infection.

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