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Eczema is a Lifelong Condition, Study Concludes

Update Date: Apr 05, 2014 10:52 AM EDT

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a condition characterized by irritated or inflamed skin. Eczema is often categorized as a childhood condition. However, according to a new study, researchers found evidence that eczema symptoms might show up throughout one's entire life.

"Based on our findings, it is probable that [eczema] does not fully resolve in most children with mild to moderate symptoms," the researchers wrote according to WebMD.

For this study, headed by Dr. David Margolis from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, the researchers examined eczema symptoms in 7,157 children over a period of time. The children had signs of eczema starting around the average age of 1.7. The children in the study also had severe cases of eczema.

After a five-year follow-up period, the researchers found that 64 percent of the participants never went six months without applying medicated ointments. This frequency changed when the children reached 20. At this age, roughly 50 percent of them had at least one six-month period without any eczema symptoms or medications. Before the age of 26, 80 percent of the children continued to have symptoms.

"Children with eczema and their caregivers must pay special attention to their skin and be sure to adequately hydrate with the right ingredients, such as ceramides, that genetically may be lacking in their skin," Dr. Doris Day, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City commented. "Proper skin care must persist even during times when the eczema is under control. Stress management is also especially important in this particular group as stress may be a particularly important trigger for this condition."

The study, "Persistence of Mild to Moderate Atopic Dermatitis," was published in JAMA Dermatology.

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