It’s hotter than ever in sunny Singapore, South and Southeast Asia going through a record-smashing heatwave. For some of us, hotter days just mean more trips to the beach or swimming pool. But for one in ten Singaporeans with the skin condition eczema, hotter weather can cause more skin itching, more inflammation and even bleeding skin.
Sun exposure and humidity are top triggers for eczema problems in Singapore because the hot weather causes more sweating and prickly heat. In turn, these can lead to uncontrolled scratching and skin damage.
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin inflammation that’s caused by a combination of factors, including genetics, a defective skin barrier, the immune system, and environmental factors – such as heat, pollution or stress.
Atopic dermatitis can occur at any age, but it often appears in early childhood. In Singapore, about one in five children and one in 10 adults suffer from eczema or atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema. It can be passed from parent to child, so a child is more likely to develop the condition if one or both parents have it, or if a family member has either allergic rhinitis or asthma.
Eczema is classed as mild, moderate or severe depending on how much of the skin is affected, and how red, thick and itchy the skin becomes.
Dermatologist Dr Lynn Teo explains, “Patients with moderate to severe forms can experience severe itching, pain, bleeding, and weeping of the lesions. This can affect their sleep and their ability to participate in work and leisure activities and lead to anxiety and depression.”
The good news is that some 80 per cent of children with atopic dermatitis grow out of it by eight years old – it’s because the skin’s barrier function naturally improves with time. But kids with severe symptoms may not be so lucky. They may face a lifetime of very sensitive skin.
It really helps to identify and avoid potential triggers, and manage symptoms. But how? Let’s speak to Dr Lynn Teo, Consultant Dermatologist, The Dermatology Practice. Since we live in Singapore, let’s also get input from physicians at Oriental Remedies Group, which uses Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) methods.