Although it is thought of as a childhood condition, eczema can affect anyone at any age, including adults. If an adult has eczema, it is medically called adult-onset atopic dermatitis. 31 million Americans have eczema so it is quite common. It can begin in childhood, adolescence, or as an adult, and it is a chronic condition. Let’s learn why adults get eczema and what they can do about it.
Origins of Adult Eczema
Exactly why some adults develop eczema is not fully clear. Half of those with eczema lack a protein called filaggrin which is linked to the development of atopic dermatitis and a faulty skin barrier. As we get older our skin gets drier with roughness, scaling, and itchiness making it more prone to develop eczema. Sometimes the first flare as an adult is attributed to a traumatic or stressful event.
It is believed there are both environmental and genetic factors that contribute to eczema. It is not contagious, but there is no cure, and only management and avoiding any known triggers helps to improve the symptoms.
Symptoms Of Adult Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)
Interestingly, symptoms can be vary with each person. Pay attention to itching, which can range from mild to severe, dry skin, inflamed discolored skin, rough or scaly patches, oozing or crusting, and swelling.
Adults may have inflammation in the following areas:
- Behind the knees
- Back of the neck
- Inside elbows
- The face and around the eyes
Pay particular attention to the area around the eyes. Atopic dermatitis can cause itchy, red, and swollen eyelids. Studies have shown that those with this condition are more likely to develop keratitis (an inflamed cornea) and pink eye (conjunctivitis).
It is always best to be evaluated by Goodless Dermatology with any of these conditions.
Treatments range from over-the-counter medications, prescription topical steroids, immunosuppressants, and biologic drugs.
In general, the best way to avoid flares is to:
- Know your triggers
- Have a daily bathing and moisturizing routine
- Use recommended over-the-counter and prescription medications consistently