Also known as dermatitis, eczema is a chronic inflammatory skin condition characterized by dry skin with very itchy red patches that may ooze, become scaly, crusted or hardened. Eczema can affect any part of the body.

Different types of eczema

Atopic dermatitis
Contact dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis

While there are many types of eczema, the most common is atopic dermatitis (AD). It is thought that between 10% and 20% of Canadians suffer from atopic dermatitis at one time during their lives. Atopic dermatitis usually first arises in infants and young children. It can be hereditary. Atopic dermatitis results in inflamed and itchy skin, generally behind the knees, on the inside of the elbows, and on the face, neck and hands.

Causes of eczema and triggers

Although genetic, immunological and environmental factors play a key role, the specific cause of eczema is not known.

While normal skin is supple, fairly waterproof, and offers protection from the outside world, skin that is affected by eczema is usually dry, cracked, and the protective outer layer (also known as the skin barrier) is damaged. Because of this, the skin loses moisture, resulting in dry, cracked skin.

Eczema symptoms tend to come and go. Reappearing or worsening symptoms are known as a “flare-up.” Many factors may trigger an eczema flare-up; these can include soaps, detergents, abrasive clothing, perfume, dust, excessive sweating or low humidity. Irritated skin itches, causing you to scratch the affected area. Scratching worsens the condition and skin becomes inflamed, worsening the itch. This is called the “itch-scratch cycle,” which can become severe and cause pain.

The Eczema Cycle - Scratch - Itch - Inflammation - Damanaged Skin
Everyone is different, but knowing what triggers your eczema is key to managing this skin condition.
Be sure to use our eczema trigger journal to help track your flare-ups.
View our eczema trigger journal

Tips to help the itch

  • Stay cool. Try to maintain a constant body temperature and wear light clothes.
  • Apply a moisturizer or Dermakalm Eczema Cream when you feel the need to scratch.
  • Keep your fingernails short.

How to treat eczema

While no cure has yet to be found for eczema, and no treatment successfully works for everyone, there are ways to manage eczema to make it more tolerable.

Frequent bathing (2 to 3 times daily, if possible)

Frequent bathing (2 to 3 times daily, if possible) followed by the application of a moisturizer is a good way to take care of your skin, to reduce the chances of a flare-up. Bathing allows moisture into the skin and moisturizer helps to seal the moisture in. If you prefer, you can shower instead; just be sure to use warm water and a gentle cleanser or shower oil.

Non-prescription Dermakalm Eczema creams, available on shelf at your pharmacy, help provide temporary relief of symptoms of atopic eczema (dermatitis) and hand and contact eczema (irritant or allergic contact dermatitis).

Developed with dermatologists, Dermakalm Eczema creams are non-greasy and free of corticosteroids, fragrances, parabens and artificial colouring.

Your eczema prevention checklist

  • Moisturize daily.
  • Choose loose cotton and soft fabrics over rough, tight, scratchy clothing.
  • Take lukewarm baths and showers; favour mild soap or non-soap cleansers.
  • Gently pat your skin dry using a soft towel.
  • Learn what triggers your eczema and try to avoid these.
  • In dry or cold weather, use a humidifier.
  • Keep your fingernails short.

Find out more about eczema and get support from others with this condition.

Find out more

Bathing and moisturizing

  • After bathing in warm (not hot) water, pat your skin dry.
  • Apply a moisturizer or Dermakalm Eczema Cream to your skin while it is still damp.
  • If applicable, use your prescription product as recommended by your doctor.
  • Reapply moisturizer several times throughout the day.

Myths and facts

Even though eczema is a fairly common condition, there are many misconceptions about this chronic skin disease.

The more you know, the easier it will be to help others distinguish the facts from the myths.


People who have eczema are not clean.


This is not true. In fact, to help hydrate their skin, many people with eczema actually bathe very often. Eczema is thought to be the result of environmental, genetic and immune system factors; it has nothing to do with cleanliness.


Eczema is exactly like acne.


No. These two conditions are completely different. Acne is the result of clogged skin pores, while eczema is a chronic inflammatory skin condition.


Eczema produces permanent scars.


Usually, no. Eczema may be irritating, but it rarely causes permanent marks on your skin.


If you have eczema, you should not swim.


It depends. The majority of people with eczema can go swimming, although because the chlorine or salt water can make eczema worse, some people choose not to. It is recommended that you rinse your skin and apply moisturizer before and after swimming.


Steroids cure eczema.


No, even though steroids have long been used to treat eczema, there is no actual cure.


Eczema is triggered by stress.


The cause of eczema is unknown. It is believed that emotional factors, such as stress, may worsen eczema. Learning to manage your stress and anxiety could help reduce your eczema flare-ups.


Eczema is contagious.


Absolutely not. You cannot catch eczema or transmit it to someone.

Living with eczema

Sometimes this means dealing with stares and hostile comments.

Eczema is very common on the hands and face. It is therefore very visible and many people know nothing about this condition, meaning that you will be exposed to various reactions.

The more you know about your condition, the better equipped you will be to respond and educate people about it. Sometimes, speaking openly about your condition will help family, friends and coworkers. Let them know how this chronic condition affects you, what it is and what it is not.

Being a chronic disease, eczema must be managed daily. Establish a routine that works for you and stick to it. Maintaining this routine, even when your eczema is under control, is key.

Hear from other people living with eczema

Watch the Eczema Society of Canada video

Break through eczema.
Reclaim your skin.

Learn more about how Dermakalm Eczema products can help provide temporary relief of eczema symptoms.

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