eczema atopic dermatitis symptom skinWhat is Eczema?

The term Eczema is commonly applied to a range of persistent skin conditions.

It is a highly individual condition which varies from person to person and comes in many different forms.

How Long Does It Last?

Who Gets It?

Is It Contagious?

Types of Eczema

Atopic Dermatitis

The most common form of eczema is atopic dermatitis.

The term “dermatitis” describes an inflammatory response of the skin, caused by contact with

  • allergens
  • irritants,
  • exposure to sunlight
  • poor circulation
  • stress

Eczema affects males and females equally and affects all races.

The numbers of people being diagnosed with eczema have continued to rise over the last few years.

The exact cause of eczema and atopic dermatitis is unknown.

Eczema is not contagious.

Infant BabyEczema mainly affects children and approximately 80% of atopic eczema cases start before a child reaches the age of 5 and a significant number of children develop it during their first year of life.

It usually persists into childhood and, for some sufferers, it persists into their adulthood.

It is also possible to develop eczema for the first time in adulthood.

Eczema usually appears on the

  • face
  • inner elbows
  • back of knees
  • hands
  • feet

Dyshidrotic Dermatitis

This type of eczema affects the hands and feet. The cause is unknown.

The first symptom may be severe itching. Blisters may then appear, which give way a few weeks later to scaly patches. Sometimes deep cracks can appear on the hands or fingers.

This type of eczema may become chronic and painful.

Contact Dermatitis

There are two types of contact dermatitis:

  • allergic contact dermatitis
  • irritant contact dermatitis

Irritant contact dermatitis can develop after the skin comes into contact with a strong irritant, such as a chemical, either on only one occasion, or repeatedly. It may also develop after frequent handwashing.

posion ivyAllergic contact dermatitis may develop after the skin comes into contact with an allergy-triggering substance, such as:

  • nickel
  • cosmetics
  • poison ivy

The hands are particularly vulnerable to developing contact dermatitis.

People can develop contact dermatitis even if they don’t have atopic dermatitis.

Sometimes, treatment with antibiotics may be necessary.

Avoiding future contact with the irritant or allergy trigger is very  important and wearing gloves can offer protection for the hands.

Neurodermatitis

Neurodermatitis may also be known as Lichen Simplex Chronicus.

It is a skin disorder characterized by a self-perpetuating scratch-itch cycle:

  • It may begin with something that rubs, irritates, or scratches the Itchy Skinskin, such as clothing.
  • This causes the person to rub or scratch the affected area. Constant scratching causes the skin to thicken.
  • The thickened skin itches, causing more scratching, causing more thickening.
  • Affected area may spread rapidly through the rest of the body.

This type of eczema often affects the

  • back
  • sides of the neck
  • back of the neck
  • scalp
  • genitals
  • wrists
  • ankles
  • inside the ear
  • behind the ear

People may scratch affected areas during the day without realizing it. They may also scratch while asleep. This can be particularly distessing for children and their parents.

Usually, neurodermatitis causes a skin outbreak that doesn’t get any bigger. But the irritated skin can grow thick and deeply wrinkled. Infections may also develop in the irritated areas.

The main treatment for this type of eczema is to stop scratching it. In the meantime, steroid medicines that are rubbed onto the skin can help treat symptoms.

When neurodermatitis affects the scalp, it can be harder to treat.

Dandruff issue on man's sholderSeborrheic Dermatitis

This type of eczema is probably better known to you as dandruff. In infants, it affects the scalp. In adults, it also often affects-

  • eyebrows
  • sides of the nose
  • area behind the ears
  • groin
  • center of chest

Seborrheic dermatitis causes skin to fall off in flakes.

It is thought the condition may be due to an overgrowth of a type of yeast that normally lives in these areas of the body, as well as an overgrowth and rapid shedding of cells on the scalp.

It may be harder to treat in people with suppressed immue systems, such as individuals with AIDS or receiving chemotherapy.

Stasis Dermatitis

This type of eczema can develop in people when the veins in their lower legs don’t properly return blood to their heart.

Stasis dermatitis can arise quickly, causing weeping and crusting of the skin. Over time, this type of eczema can cause the skin to develop brown stain

Nummular Dermatitis

This type of eczema more often affects men than women. Men usually don’t get their first outbreak before their mid-50s. Women tend to get it in their teen years or early adulthood.

Nummular dermatitis causes coin-shaped red marks. The marks appear most often on the:

  • legs
  • backs of the hands
  • forearms
  • lower back
  • hips

The cause of nummular dermatitis is unknown. However, factors that may raise the chance that an outbreak will strike include:

  • cold, dry air
  • exposure to chemicals such as formaldehyde
  • exposure to metals, including nickel

The legs of a young white woman showing eczemaWhat Are The Symptoms of Eczema?

The symptoms of eczema may include one or more of the following –

  • redness
  • swelling
  • itching
  • dryness
  • crusting
  • flaking
  • fluid filled blisters
  • cracking
  • bleeding
  • weeping clear fluid
  • thickening of skin

The chief characteristic of atopic eczema is the ‘itch’ which at times can become almost unbearable.

Complications

Scratching open an eczema lesion may spread the inflammation or lead to infection.

Persistent scratching can also lead to permanent scars or changes in skin color

ItchScratching may increase the intensity of the itch and lead to Neurodermatitis is a condition in which an area of skin that’s frequently scratched becomes thick and leathery. The patches can be raw, red or darker than the rest of your skin. .

Sometimes, scratching can break the skin and cause open sores and fissures that can become infected, a process called impetiginization.A milder form of infection is impetigo, usually due to staphylococcal infection.

Having atopic dermatitis predisposes you to this infection.

In seriously affected people, the skin may develop deep and painful cracks, known as fissures.

Treatment for Eczema