Eczema, also referred to as atopic dermatitis is a skin condition that causes inflammation on the skin, redness, makes it itchy, dry and/or cracked. It is a skin condition that affects both adults and children but is more common in children.
In some cases, atopic dermatitis can be chronic and tends to flare occasionally. It could sometimes come along with asthma and hay fever. The good part however is that eczema is not contagious, thus cannot be spread from one person to another.
That said, there are numerous environmental factors such as pollen and smoke that are known to trigger eczema. Also, foods such as nuts and dairy products can equally lead to one developing the skin condition.
Symptoms of Eczema
Symptoms of eczema often varies from person to person. Some of the signs and symptoms commonly seen include:
- Rashes on the scalp and skin in children.
- Severe Itchiness that often interrupts and or affects sleep.
- Dry skin.
- Rashes appearing all over the body especially on the neck, face and around the eye.
- Patches that are red or brownish-gray which appear particularly on the hands, feet ankles and elbows.
- Thickened, cracked and scaly skin.
Further to the symptoms highlighted above, there are different types of eczema all of which have unique factors that trigger them with some presenting additional symptoms that are not commonly experienced. Examples of the types of eczema include:
- Contact dermatitis: This type of eczema is often experienced when an individual comes in contact with certain substances that could trigger it. Studies have also shown that people that have atopic dermatitis are at increased risk of contracting contact dermatitis. Some of the common symptoms are blistering, hives and/or dry, red and itchy skin.
- Irritant contact dermatitis: This is usually caused by consistent exposure to certain types of substance that irritates the skin. Examples of such substance include hair dyes, acids, weed killers, solvents etc.
- Allergic contact dermatitis: As the name implies, allergic contact dermatitis often results from an individual’s immune system reacting negatively to substance they come in contact with. Once an allergen is developed, they usually last a lifetime. Probable allergens may include fabrics and clothing dyes, glues, latex, metals and even some medications.
- Dyshidrotic eczema: This type of eczema commonly affects adults that are under the age of 40. Symptoms such as itching and small blisters usually appear on the hands and feet of the sufferer. Occasionally, these blisters could actually cause pain and swelling especially when they get bigger, watery and infected. Although it’s not really certain what causes dyshidrotic eczema, triggers such as emotional stress, weather changes as well as people that work with certain chemicals.
- Discoid eczema: The name discoid eczema emerged following the disc-shaped patches of itchy, red, swollen and cracked skin which it presents. The discs usually appear on the lower legs and forearms and is known to affect both children and adults. Some of the risk factors of this type of eczema include poor blood flow, skin injuries, bacterial skin infection and climate change.
- Seborrheic dermatitis: It is one of the common types of eczema which causes a red, itchy and flaky rash. It usually appears in areas and or parts of the skin that are very oily. It often affects people between the ages or 30 to 60 years. As with other types of eczema, certain medical conditions increase the risk of seborrheic dermatitis such as HIV, epilepsy, acne etic.
Treatment for Eczema
Although there is no specific cure for eczema, specific measures can be taken to manage the symptoms effectively and prevent reoccurrence.
- Antibiotics can be taken if eczema occurs as a result of bacterial infection.
- If you have allergens, identify their triggers and try avoiding them as much as possible.
- Use warm water to bath and avoid staying too long in the shower.
- After having a warm bath, gently pat your skin dry and be deliberate about moisturizing your skin when it’s still damp.
- Use antifungal and antiviral medications to treat any viral or fungal infections but this should be as directed by your doctor.
- Steroid creams and ointments also come in handy to help reduce swelling and sores.
- Antihistamines can also be used to help reduce itching at night.