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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Can you get eczema for the first time as an adult?

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    The role of the Eczema Association of Australasia Inc (EAA) is to be a supportive body for eczema sufferers and carers, to increase public awareness … View Profile

    One in twelve adults have eczema at one time or another.  Some are adults whose eczema has lingered on from childhood, while others will have eczema for the first time in adulthood. 
    As people get older emotional stress and tension can play a large role in triggering a flare-up of eczema or aggravating the current condition.  No one can get rid of stress in their lives, but we can learn how to handle it. Adult eczema often does recover completely.
    People often think that stress accompanies a person who leads a very busy life, taking on more than he or she can possible do.  Yet many people with eczema restrict their lives because they don’t want to be seen in public when their skin looks too awful.  Staying at home, feeling bad about yourself, is very stressful thing to do.  While eczema should never be ignored or neglected, it is not a good idea to focus on it heavily either.  It is embarrassing to be stared at, but better that than become a self-made prisoner.
    You do have to adopt a bit of a ‘me first’ attitude and do what you enjoy.  It may be that all you need is a practical way of handling a build-up of stress.  Do you make time for yourself, or are you at everybody else’s beck and call?  Relax by making time to do something that you enjoy, regularly.  This can be a hobby, sporting activity or anything else that you like, so long as you do it often enough.

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    Prof Rodney Sinclair

    Dermatologist (Skin Specialist)

    Professor Sinclair is a Professor of Dermatology at the University of Melbourne and Director of Epworth Dermatology. He is past-president of the Australasian Society for … View Profile

    Eczema can appear for the first time at any age. Different patterns of eczema are seen at different ages. Babies commonly develop eczema on the face. Young children develop it in the skin creases at the elbows and behind the knees. Later in life discoid dermatitis is more common. Asteototic eczema is most common among the elderly.
    The best place to start is with an accurate diagnosis of your rash.
    In my experience stress is a consequence of eczema rather than the cause. Short, lukewarm showers, soap avoidance, frequent and liberal application of a medium-priced moisturiser and measures to prevent overheating in bed at night are important skin care tips to prevent and manage eczema

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