Eczema is where the skin becomes very dry and can become red and inflamed. We don’t know the exact cause of eczema but genetic and environmental factors come into play. In infants, it can often be foods such as milk and wheat. The good news with this type of allergy is that most children grow out of it by around seven years of age. In adults and older children as well as certain foods, there is often a trigger such as house dust mite, pet fur and saliva or wool and synthetic materials. Its worthwhile examining everything you use in the house from toiletries to detergents and try and use allergen free varieties. Keep your body at an even temperature since heat and excessive perspiration can cause red itchy patches. Moisturising the skin is the main treatment and always use a downward stroke to avoid irritating the skin further. There is a vast range of emollients (moisturisers) some ointments for example are useful where you want to create a barrier for thick dry skin particularly at night. Creams are better for day time use and bath oils are effective where you want to create a layer of oil trapping water and preventing dehydration.For flare ups I usually recommend a mild steroid such as hydrocortisone or eumovate but for a maximum of seven days and there are restrictions concerning the sale of these products for children. Taking omega 3 is sometimes helpful but make sure you include a good quality one with high concentrations of EPA and DHA.For more information, call into the pharmacy.