Eczema is a disease which causes skin inflammation (dermatitis). It also comes in various forms, and Atopic Dermatitis is the most common form of them.
The name ‘eczema’ is originated from a Greek word meaning ‘to boil over’.
Known as an overactive immune system disorder, eczema has affected nearby one billion people throughout the world. Eczema is a chronic, itchy inflammation of skin which has following common symptoms:
Common Symptoms of Eczema
- Redness or rashes in the affected skin areas
- Dry skin, which is often thickened in those areas that have been scratched by the patient.
- Lumps or blisters in the affected parts
Although any part of the body can be suffered with eczema, but it typically appears on wrists, hands, neck, upper chest, backs of knees and face. The worst effect of this illness is the intense itching that it causes, which further leads to the itching/scratching cycle. The continuous scratching leads to further damaging of the skin. Emotional stress can elivate it along with varied other internal and external chemical sensitivities and allergies.
It is not an easy task to manage eczema in children because they cannot understand and do not stop itching if happens to them, especially at night while they are trying to sleep. In kids, the most commonly affected parts of body due to eczema are chin, back, cheeks, arms and stomach. In adults, eczema mostly affect eyelids, neck, hands and wrists, and back of elbows and knees.
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What Causes Eczema?
Food allergies and consumption of certain kind of foods like gluten, dairy products, nuts, wheat and few others can increase eczema outbreaks. However, the symptoms and appearance of the affected skin in all these categories are same. Moreover, the classification system is far from perfect and it is often a difficult task to accurately say, what leads to eczema in any one person.
In some cases, eczema’s symptoms last for few hours while in other cases the symptoms can persist over a longer time. Eczema can lead to blisters and oozing lesions, thereby, resulting in dry and scaly skin. Continuously scratching on skin can further make it hardened and scratchy.
Different Types of Eczema
- Atopic Dermatitis
It is a chronic skin disease which is characterized by itchy, inflamed skin. Depending upon exposure to trigger or causative factors, these conditions may come and go. Different factors that may trigger atopic dermatitis are, environmental such as, molds, pollen, or pollutants; contact irritants like soaps, detergents, nickel, or perfumes; food allergies; or other allergies. If this illness happens in infancy, then it is also known as infantile eczema. It has been found out that condition of atopic dermatitis tends to run in families and people who suffer with this often have a family history of some other allergic conditions, like, asthma, etc.
- Contact Eczema
It can be termed as localized reaction that includes redness, itching, and burning in areas where the skin come into contact of allergy-causing substance or with a general irritant, like acid, a cleaning agent, or other chemical. Some of the examples of contact eczema are reactions to laundry detergents, soaps, nickel, cosmetics, fabrics, clothing, and perfume. As one person come into contact of vast number of substances, therefore, it becomes difficult to find out the factors which are responsible for contact dermatitis. Sometimes, it is called allergic contact eczema, if the trigger is an allergen, otherwise, irritant contact eczema, if the trigger is an irritant. Those persons who have a history of allergies have high chances to develop contact eczema.
- Seborrheic Eczema
Its symptoms include yellowish, oily, scaly patches of skin on the scalp, face and occasionally on other body parts. In infants, dandruff and cradle cap are examples of seborrheic eczema. Seborrheic eczema tends to run in families. There are many factors which may cause seborrheic eczema, like emotional stress, oily skin, infrequent shampooing and varied other weather conditions, etc.
- Nummular Eczema
It is characterized by coin-shaped patches of irritated skin, which is most commonly seen on the arms, back, buttocks, and lower legs. It is a rare form of eczema and is more often found in elderly men. Usually, nummular eczema is a chronic condition. Asthma, allergies, personal or family history of atopic dermatitis can increases the risk of developing nummular eczema.
Is it Possible to Cure Eczema?
Medical research has proved that the most effective way for treating eczema, irrespective of type involves the use of combination of varied therapies for treating the skin and making real changes in lifestyle to control flare-ups. While there is no definite set of rules for curing eczema, you can take below steps to effectively manage your symptoms and lessen its severity. Some of its measures include
- Frequent use of moisturizer, especially after bathing;
- Taking bath in warm water by using a mild soap.
- Keeping a distance from known irritants, such as, soaps, perfumes, detergents, environmental irritants, etc.
- Wearing loose-fitting cloths.
- Avoiding food that can cause allergy.
- Practicing good hygiene even if you are not suffering from eczema.
Precautions During the Treatment of Eczema
The main aim of the treatment is to prevent itching, inflammation and worsening of the condition. Patients are advised both lifestyle changes and the use of medications to cure eczema.
Keeping the skin well-hydrated by using such creams or ointments which have low water and high oil content, is an important part of treatment. It is strongly recommended to use emollient creams like petrolatum-based creams, to the body immediately after a lukewarm bath. Sometimes, corticosteroid creams are prescribed to decrease the inflammatory reaction in the skin. Depending upon the severity of symptoms, these creams may be mild, medium or high-potency.
Always take care of your diet and include balanced food and drink milk. Milk has many nutrients and rich in calcium, phosphorous.
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In some cases, patients can be prescribed short course of oral corticosteroids, like prednisone to control the acute outbreak of eczema. However, their prolonged use is discouraged as it can lead to some harmful effects. Sometimes, the oral immune suppressant drug cyclosporine is also used for treating eczema. Ultraviolet light therapy can be another method for treating eczema.