Eczema, also called "atopic dermatitis" when it begins in childhood, manifests as scaly, dry, red skin patches. It is not contagious, but it can worsen with very dry winter weather, drying heat in homes, long hot showers, fragrances, oils, animal hair, wool and synthetic fabrics, cigarette smoke and environmental irritants. Eczema is treated with emollition (via moisturizing techniques), topical prescription creams, humidifying the environment, and oral medications (antihistamines) to reduce itching and scratching.
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