What Is Eczema (Dermatitis) ?
Eczema or dermatitis is a skin condition. What you should know about eczema.
Eczema is a group of skin conditions which can affect all age groups. The severity of this disease can vary. In mild forms the skin is dry, hot, and itchy. In the more severe cases, the skin can become broken, raw, and bleeding.
Eczema is not contagious!! Even with treatment, inflammation of eczema can be reduced, though the skin will always be sensitive to flare-ups and need extra care.
The causes of eczema are many and varied, and depend on the particular type of eczema that a person has.
Atopic eczema is thought to be a hereditary condition. People with atopic eczema are sensitive to allergens in the environment which are harmless to others. In atopic eczema there is an excessive reaction by the immune system
producing inflamed, irritated and sore skin. Other types of eczema are caused by irritants, such as, chemicals and detergents, allergens, such as nickel, and yeast growths. Although some of the causes of eczema remain unexplained,
though links with environmental factors and stress are being explored.
Atopic eczema is the commonest forms of eczema and is closely linked with asthma and hayfever. One of the most common symptoms of atopic eczema is its itchiness, which can be almost unbearable. Other symptoms include: overall dryness of the skin, redness, and inflammation. Constant scratching can also cause the skin to split, leaving it open to infection.
Treatments include emollients (a type of oil to keep the skin soft) to keep the skin hydrated and steroids to reduce the inflammation.
Another type of eczema is called Adult seborrhoeic eczema, this type can affect adults between the ages of 20 to 40.
It is usually seen on the scalp as mild dandruff, but can spread to the face, ears, and chest. The skin will become red, inflamed, and start to flake. The condition is thought to be caused by a yeast growth. If the condition becomes infected, it can usually be treated with an anti-fungal cream.
No matter which kind of eczema you have, there are a number of treatments, which begin with an effective skin care routine. The following are the more commonly used treatments:
Emollients are necessary to reduces water loss from the skin, preventing the dryness. This will form a barrier, thus preventing the skin from becoming dry and itchy. Emollients are safe to use as often as is necessary. Ointments are for very dry skin, creams and lotions are for mild to moderate or wet eczema and gels for eczema for under the hair.
Some may be applied directly to the skin, others are used as soap substitutes or added to the bath. It may be necessary to try several before the most suitable one is found. Always test a small area of skin first to be sure that you
are not allergic to it.
Topical steroids maybe use with flare-ups, when the skin becomes inflamed. Steroid creams act by reducing inflammation and are used in most types of eczema. Topical steroids come in four different strengths, mild, moderately potent, potent, and very potent. Only a doctor can prescribe the correct topical steroid.
Oral steroids are sometimes prescribed in very severe cases and usually under the direction of a dermatologists, a skin doctor. These can have side-effects and should be monitored closely.
Anti-histamines may also be used to reduces inflammation and wet wrap bandaging to soothe dry itchy skin.
Ultra Violet light treatment and stronger medication may be considered for very severe eczema.
It is also thought that the house dust mite may cause atopic eczema, by the allergens in the droppings of the mite. This mite lives in warm and moist environments and can be found in bedding, mattresses, curtains, and carpets. Some
believe that reducing the amount of house dust mites in the home may improve the condition of the skin. This is done by regular vacuuming, to damp dusting and airing of the bedding.
There is no known cure for eczema. But a person with chronic atopic eczema, may live with the hopes for improved ways to manage the disease and will follow any new developments for eczema. At this point there are none.