- Eczema is a condition where parts of the skin become itchy, inflamed, red, and rough.
- Keeping the skin healthy and moisturized can prevent certain kinds of eczema.
- It is important to distinguish the different causes of eczema because effective treatments vary.
- Certain foods can trigger symptoms, such as citrus fruits, dairy, gluten or wheat, soy, spices such as vanilla and cinnamon and some types of nuts.
- Eczema is not a contagious condition.
WHAT IS ECZEMA?
The word "eczema" is also used specifically to refer to atopic dermatitis, the most common type of eczema.
The appearance of skin affected by eczema will depend on how much a person scratches and whether the skin is infected. Scratching and rubbing further cause irritation on the skin, increase inflammation, and make itching worse.
Eczema is always itchy. Sometimes the itching happens before the rash appears. Rashes most commonly appear on the face, back of the knees, wrists, hands, or feet but it may also affect other areas as well.
TYPES OF ECZEMA AND ITS SYMPTOMS
- Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema. It usually starts in younger years, and often gets milder or goes away by adult age. "Atopic" refers to a group of diseases including the immune system. Dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin. Atopic dermatitis happens when the skin’s natural barrier against irritants and allergens is weakened.
Atopic dermatitis (eczema) signs and symptoms differ widely from skin to skin and include:
- Dry skin
- Itching, which may be severe, especially during the night time
- Red to brownish patches, mostly on the hands, feet, ankles, wrists, neck, upper chest, eyelids, inside the bend of the elbows and knees, and in infants, the face and scalp
Atopic dermatitis most often begins before age 5 and may carry on into adolescence and adulthood. For some, it flares periodically and then clears up for a time, even for some years.
Contact dermatitis is a red, itchy rash caused by direct contact with a substance or an allergic reaction to it. After repeated exposures to the same substance, an allergen. The body’s immune recognition system becomes activated. The rash isn't contagious, but it can be very uncomfortable.
Dyshidrotic eczema is a skin condition in which blisters develop on the soles of your feet, sides of the fingers or toes and palms of your hands. The blisters are itchy and usually filled with fluid. Blisters normally last for about two to four weeks and may be related to seasonal allergies or stress. So blisters may breakout more frequently during the spring allergy season. The blisters are often very itchy. Affected skin areas can scale, crack, and flake.
- Hand eczema is an inflammation of the skin of the hands that can be caused by contact allergens such as rubber chemicals, but other external factors (e.g. irritants such as water or detergents) and atopic predisposition are often important triggers.
In hand eczema, your hands get red, itchy, and dry and they may form cracks or blisters.
- Neurodermatitis is a skin condition that starts with an itchy patch of skin. It is similar to atopic dermatitis. It causes thick, scaly patches to appear on your skin. Scratching makes it even itchier. This itch-scratch cycle causes the affected skin to become thick and leathery.
Neurodermatitis usually starts in people who have other types of eczema or psoriasis. Stress is also a known trigger to this condition.
In neurodermatitis, thick, scaly patches form on your arms, legs, back of your neck, scalp, bottoms of your feet, backs of your hands, or genital. These patches can be very itchy, especially when you’re relaxed or asleep.
- Stasis dermatitis is a skin inflammation that develops in people with poor blood circulation. It most often occurs in the lower legs because that's where blood typically collects. When blood collects or pools in the veins of the lower legs, the pressure on the veins increases. Legs can swell up and varicose veins can form.
The lower part of the legs may swell up, especially during the day when you’ve been walking so much. Legs may ache or feel heavy.
- Nummular eczema is a type of eczema that causes coin-shaped spots to form on your skin. The word “nummular” means coin in Latin. Nummular eczema looks very different from other types of eczema, and it can itch a lot. These patches are often itchy and well-defined.
Nummular eczema can be triggered by a reaction to a skin injury, such as a burn, abrasion, or insect bite. Dry skin can also cause it. The condition may result in one spot or a few spots of coin-shaped lesions. These can last for several months.
People with eczema will benefit from working with their doctor to identify what triggers or worsens their symptoms. Avoiding specific triggers or allergens can help to prevent or minimize flare-ups.
Life with eczema can seem intimidating not knowing how the day after today will treat you. As any sickness goes, it usually doesn’t treat you well. It leaves much to be desired, much to be wished for.