What is eczema?
In this skin condition, patches of skin become inflamed, itchy, red, cracked and rough. Sometimes blisters also show up. It refers to a combination of diseases involving the immune system, asthma, and hay fever.
What you must know about Eczema
- Atopic dermatitis, the most common type of eczema, commonly occurs in infants with dry scaly patches appearing on the skin that are often intensely itchy.
- Most patients develop atopic dermatitis before the age of 5 years.
- Half of those who develop this condition in childhood continue to have symptoms as an adult.
- Adults who developed atopic dermatitis when they were young but no longer experience the condition may still experience dry or easily-irritated skin, hand eczema, and eye problems.
- The skin affected by atopic dermatitis depends on how often and badly the person scratches the affected area.
- Scratching, rubbing and itching further irritate the skin, increase inflammation, and make it worse.
- All the treatments for eczema aim at healing the affected skin and preventing flare-ups of the symptoms.
- Doctors usually suggest a plan of treatment based on an individual's age, symptoms, and present state of health.
Environmental factors that bring out the symptoms of eczema
- Irritants: These include soaps, detergents, shampoos, disinfectants and alike.
- Allergens: These include dust mites, pets, pollens, dandruff and alike.
- Microbes: These include bacteria, certain fungi, viruses etc.
- Hot & cold temperatures: Extreme weather conditions or perspiration from exercise can bring out eczema.
- Certain foods like dairy products, eggs, nuts and seeds can trigger eczema. Wheat can cause flare-ups.
- Stress can aggravate these symptoms and can worsen the condition.
- Women experience eczema due to hormonal changes also like during pregnancy or menstrual cycle.
Types of Eczema:
1.Allergic Contact Dermatitis: This type of eczema looks like a skin reaction that takes place due to a contact with a substance or allergen, unknown to the body’s immune system.
2.Dyshidrotic Eczema: This type of eczema involves irritation of the skin on the palms and the soles of the feet. Also, characterized as blisters.
3.Neurodermatitis: In this, scaly patches are formed on the head, forearms, wrists, and lower legs; caused by a localized itch, such as an insect bite.
4.Nummular Eczema: This type of eczema show up as circular patches of irritated skin that can be crusted, scaly, and itchy.
5.Seborrheic Eczema: Oily, scaly, yellowish patches of skin are fomed usually on the scalp area and face.
6.Stasis dermatitis: Is synonymous with skin irritation of the lower leg related to circulatory problems.
1. Topical Treatment
Topical corticosteroid creams and ointments are a type of anti-inflammatory medication used to relieve the main symptoms of eczema, such as skin inflammation and itchiness. They are applied directly to the skin. Topical calcineurin inhibitors are a type of drug that suppresses the activities of the immune system. It decreases inflammation and helps prevent flare-ups. Barrier repair moisturizers are also recommended as they reduce water loss and work to repair the skin.
If topical treatments are not effective, then systemic corticosteroids can be prescribed. These are either injected or swallowed and are only used for short periods of time.
These are prescribed if eczema occurs along with a bacterial skin infection.
A method normally used to treat moderate dermatitis involves exposure to ultraviolet A or B waves, alone or combined.