Eczema is a common form of skin inflammation which is called dermatitis that causes the skin to become itchy, red, swollen and painful.
Atopic dermatitis is the most common among them. Atopic refers to a group of diseases with an often inherited tendency to develop other allergic conditions. It is a skin disorder which can be seen in people of almost all ages whether he is an infant or an adult.
It is a condition is most common in infants, and about 85% of those affected have an onset prior to 5 years of age. It is more common in boys than girls. It is not contagious though but believed to be a hereditary in some cases. Eczema usually starts on the face followed by the hands and feet. Older children tend to be affected in the elbow and knee creases, neck, wrists, ankles and feet. Eczema is basically overactive response by the body’s immune system to an irritant. The exact cause of eczema is still unknown though.
There are different types of ECZEMA. A few of common among them are:
It is a form of skin inflammation whose signs and symptoms include yellowish, oily, scaly patches of skin on the scalp, face, and occasionally other parts of the body. Few of its causes are emotional stress, oily skin, infrequent shampooing etc.
2: Atopic dermatitis:
It is the most common type of eczema. It is characterized by itchy and inflamed skin caused due to contact irritants like soaps, detergents, food allergies etc.
3: Stasis dermatitis:
Also referred to as varicose eczema, it is a skin irritation on the lower legs, generally related to the circulatory problem known as venous insufficiency. The symptoms include itching and/or reddish-brown discoloration of the skin on one or both legs.
4: Contact eczema:
It is a localized reaction that includes redness, itching, and burning in areas where the skin has come into contact with an allergen or with a general irritant such as a cleaning agent, or other chemicals.
This is another type of eczema characterized by patches of skin on the head, lower legs, wrists, or forearms.
Signs and symptoms of Eczema:
There are various signs which helps to characterize ECZEMA, though it may vary from person to person. Few of them are mentioned below:
1: Itching is the first and foremost symptom of eczema. But it doesn’t mean that any kind of itching is eczema. Eczema is accompanied by several other symptoms.
2: Redness or blisters in skin is another sign.
3: Affected areas usually appear very dry, thickened, or scaly.
4: There might be Lichenification which is a leathery, thicker skin area in response to scratching.
5: Fluid oozes when the blisters burst and crusts or scabs form when the fluid dries.
Causes of Eczema:
There can be many causes of ECZEMA though the exact cause is still unknown. Some of the causes have been given with the types above. It varies with environment and from person to person. Few of them are listed below:
1:Sometimes it is believed that it is caused due to abnormal function of the immune system.
2: Sometimes it is believed that gene defects that lead to abnormalities in certain proteins that are important in maintaining the barrier function of normal skin might be the reason behind it.
3: Coming into contact with rough or coarse materials or feeling too hot or too cold, exposure to certain household products like soap or detergent, or coming into contact with animal dander may cause an outbreak.
4: Sometimes allergic reactions due to certain kind of food like milk, soy, wheat, fish, nuts, egg etc may trigger it.
Treatment of Eczema:
There are various forms of treatment available which mainly aims at eliminating the itching which provokes or worsens the other symptoms and causes the most discomfort. The treatment differs from person to person and it is essential to consult a doctor. However a few things are described below:
1: Corticosteroid creams are sometimes prescribed to decrease the inflammatory reaction in the skin. Steroids, such as hydrocortisone, reduce the inflammation in response to an allergic reaction.
2: Special diets that exclude certain foods (elimination diets) have been effective in treating eczema of certain kinds.
3: Keeping the skin well hydrated through the application of creams such as petrolatum-based creams or ointments as well as avoiding over-bathing is an important step in treatment.
4: In severe cases, phototherapy or ultaviolet (UV) treatment may be suggested.