Eczema is a term for a group of health conditions that cause the skin to become inflamed or irritated. The most common type of eczema is called atopic dermatitis, or atopic eczema. Atopic describes a group of diseases with an often inherited tendency to develop other allergic conditions, such as asthma and hay fever.
There are lots of distinct kinds of eczema.
Allergic contact dermatitis: This is a skin reaction after contact with a chemical or allergen the immune system recognizes as foreign.
Dyshidrotic eczema: This is an irritation of the skin on the palms of their hands and the bottoms of the feet. It’s characterized by blisters.
Neurodermatitis: This forms scaly patches of skin on the head, forearms, wrists, and lower legs. It’s caused by a localized itch, like an insect bite.
Nummular eczema: All these reveal as circular patches of irritated skin which may be crusted, scaly, and itchy.
Seborrheic eczema: This creates oily, scaly, yellow patches of skin, usually on the scalp and face.
Stasis dermatitis: This is a skin irritation of the lower leg usually associated with circulatory issues.
Eczema affects about 10% to 20% of babies and about 3% of adults and children in the U.S. Most babies who develop the illness outgrow it by their tenth birthday, though some people continue to have symptoms off and on throughout life. With good treatment, the disease often can be controlled.
- Certain foods may cause symptoms, like nuts and dairy.
- Symptoms vary according to the age of the individual with eczema, but they frequently include scaly, itchy patches of skin.
- Eczema can also be triggered by environmental factors like pollen and smoke. However, eczema isn’t a curable condition.
- Treatment concentrates on healing damaged skin and relieving symptoms. There’s not yet a complete cure for psoriasis, but symptoms can be managed.
- Eczema isn’t a contagious condition.
What Are the Symptoms of Eczema?
Whichever part of the skin is affected, eczema is almost always itchy. Sometimes the itching begins before the rash appears, but if it does, the rash most commonly appears on the face, back of the knees, wrists, hands, or feet. It could also affect other areas also.
Affected areas usually look very dry, thickened, or scaly. In fair-skinned people, these areas may initially appear reddish and then turn brown. Among darker-skinned people, eczema can affect pigmentation, making the affected area darker or lighter.
In babies, the itchy rash may create an oozing, crusting condition that occurs mainly on the face and scalp, but patches may appear everywhere.
Symptoms in babies under 2 years old
- Rashes commonly appear on the scalp and cheeks.
- Rashes usually bubble up before leaking fluid.
- Rashes can cause intense itchiness. This may interfere with sleeping. Continuous rubbing and scratching can result in skin infections.
Symptoms in children aged 2 years before puberty
- Rashes commonly appear behind the creases of knees or elbows.
- They’re also common on the neck, wrists, ankles, and the crease between buttock and thighs.
- Over time, the following symptoms may occur:
- Rashes may get bumpy.
- Rashes can lighten or darken in colour.
- Rashes can thicken in a procedure called lichenification. The rashes can subsequently develop a permanent itch.
Symptoms in adults
- Rashes commonly appear in creases of the elbows or knees or the nape of the neck.
- Rashes cover much of the body.
- Rashes can be particularly prominent on the neck, face, and around the eyes.
- Rashes can cause very dry skin.
- Rashes can be eternally itchy.
- Rashes in adults could be more scaly than those occurring in children.
- Rashes may result in skin infections.
Adults who developed atopic dermatitis as a child but no longer experience the illness may still have dry or easily-irritated skin, hand eczema, and eye issues.
The look of skin affected by atopic dermatitis will be dependent on how much a person scratches and if the skin is infected. Scratching and rubbing further irritate the skin, increase inflammation, and create itchiness worse.
What Causes Eczema?
The specific cause of eczema is unknown, but it is believed to be connected to an overactive response by the body’s immune system to an irritant. It is this reaction that causes the symptoms of eczema.
Additionally, eczema is usually found in families with a history of other allergies or asthma. Additionally, defects in the skin barrier could allow moisture out and germs in.
Some people can have”flare-ups” of the itchy rash in response to specific substances or conditions. For many, coming into contact with rough or coarse materials may cause the skin to become itchy. For others, feeling too hot or too cold, exposure to particular household products such as detergent or soap, or coming into contact with animal dander can cause an outbreak. Upper respiratory infections or colds may also be triggers. Stress can cause the condition to worsen.
Although there’s no cure, most people can effectively manage their illness with medical treatment and by avoiding irritants. The condition isn’t contagious and can not be spread from person to person.
Pollen is one of the numerous possible triggers of eczema.
Eczema isn’t contagious.
Kids are more likely to develop eczema if a parent has had the illness or another atopic disease.
If both parents have an atopic disease, the risk is much greater.
Environmental factors are also known to bring out the symptoms of eczema, such as:
Irritants: These include soaps, detergents, shampoos, disinfectants, juices from fresh fruits, meats, or vegetables.
Allergens: Dust mites, pets, pollens, mold, and dandruff may result in eczema.
Cold and hot temperatures: Very hot or cold weather, high and low temperatures, and perspiration from exercise may bring out eczema.
Stress: this isn’t a direct cause of eczema but can make symptoms worse.
Hormones: Girls can experience greater eczema symptoms at times when their hormone levels are changing, such as during pregnancy and at certain points in the menstrual cycle.
How Is Eczema Diagnosed?
A pediatrician, dermatologist, or your primary care provider can make a diagnosis of eczema. When there are no tests to determine eczema, most often your physician can tell if it is eczema by taking a look at your skin and by asking several questions.
Since most people with eczema also have allergies, your doctor may perform allergy tests to determine possible irritants or triggers. Children with eczema are particularly likely to be tested for allergies.
How Is Eczema Treated?
The objective of treatment for eczema is to alleviate and prevent itching, which may result in infection. Since the disease makes skin dry and itchy, lotions and creams are suggested to keep the skin moist. These products are usually applied when the skin is moist, like after bathing, to help the skin retain moisture. Cold compresses may also be used to relieve itching.
Over-the-counter goods, such as hydrocortisone 1% cream, or prescription creams and ointments containing corticosteroids, are usually prescribed to reduce inflammation. Additionally, if the affected area becomes infected, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to kill the infection-causing bacteria.
Other treatments include antihistamines to reduce severe itching, tar treatments (compounds developed to reduce itching), phototherapy (treatment using ultraviolet light applied to the skin), and the drug cyclosporine for individuals whose condition does not respond to other therapies.
The FDA has approved two drugs called topical immunomodulators (TIMs) for treating mild-to-moderate eczema. The drugs, Elidel and Protopic, are skin creams that work by altering the immune system reaction to stop flare-ups.
The FDA has warned doctors to prescribe Elidel and Protopic with caution because of concerns over a potential cancer risk associated with their use. Both lotions also carry the FDA’s”black box” warning on their packaging to alert physicians and patients to those potential dangers. The warning advises physicians to prescribe short-term use of Elidel and Protopic only after other available eczema treatments have failed in adults and children over age 2. It shouldn’t be utilised in children under age 2.
- Taking lukewarm baths
- Applying moisturizer within 3 minutes of bathing to “lock in” moisture
- Moisturizing Daily
- Wearing soft and cotton fabrics, and preventing rough, scratchy fibers and tight-fitting clothing
- With a mild soap or a non-soap cleaner when washing
- Air drying or softly patting skin dry with a towel, Instead of rubbing the skin dry after bathing
- Where possible, preventing rapid changes of temperature and activities that make you sweat
- Preventing and learning individual eczema triggers
- Using a humidifier in dry or cold weather
- Keeping fingernails short to prevent scratching from breaking the skin
How Can Eczema Flare-ups Be Prevented?
Eczema outbreaks can sometimes be prevented or the severity lessened by following these easy tips.
- Moisturize frequently.
- Avoid sudden changes in temperature or humidity.
- Avoid sweating or overheating.
- Reduce stress.
- Avoid scratchy substances, such as wool.
- Avoid harsh soaps, detergents, and solvents.
- Be conscious of any foods that may cause an outbreak and avoid these foods.