What You Need To Know About Eczema

Eczema is a general term that is used to describe skin inflammation, which can also be called dermatitis. If you have a persistent red, itchy and flaky rash, there is a good chance that you have eczema. Although there are many types of the condition, the most common is known as atopic dermatitis. Many infants suffer from eczema, however, the condition typically resolves for most of these children by age three. Others will continue to suffer recurrent eczema throughout their lives.

What does eczema look like?

Eczema affects the epidermis – the uppermost layers of your skin. The condition is characterized by skin rashes that are red and inflamed, with possible crusting, flaking, cracking, oozing or bleeding. Affected areas often tend to be swollen. The actual appearance of eczema-affected skin varies between people and also by eczema type. You may notice that after an episode of eczema, there may be some temporary skin discoloration around the affected area, however, scarring from eczema is rare. Usually, intense itching is the first sign of an oncoming bout of eczema. While any part of the body can be affected, in children and adults, the face, neck and the insides of the elbows, knees and ankles are the most commonly affected areas. Young children often suffer eczema on their forehead, cheeks, forearms, neck, scalp and legs.

What are the different types of eczema?

The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis. This condition is thought to occur because of abnormal immune functioning and tends to run in families. Atopic dermatitis rashes come and go, depending on environmental triggers. By contrast, contact eczema is a localized reaction to an allergy-causing substance such as poison ivy or after exposure to an irritant, such as a cleaning product or chemical. Other types of eczema that occur less commonly include nummular eczema, seborrheic eczema, neurodermatitis and dyshidrotic eczema.

What causes eczema?

The precise causes of eczema are unknown, although improper immune function is thought to be somewhat responsible. Some types of eczema can be triggered by contact with substances such as soaps, cosmetics, clothing, detergents, jewelry or sweat. Other allergens, such as pollen or dust mites may also cause a reaction. Stress and changes in the weather are also enough to trigger an outbreak in some people.

How is eczema treated?

Once eczema has been diagnosed, there are a number of different treatment options. The aim of treatment is to prevent itching, inflammation and exacerbation of the condition. Treatment may involve medications and lifestyle changes. A dermatologist or physician is likely to recommend adequate skin hydration through use of creams with low water and high oil content. Corticosteroid creams are often prescribed to reduce inflammation and redness. Sedative-type anti-histamine drugs are also prescribed to reduce severe itching. The strength of corticosteroids and anti-histamines is varied depending on the severity of the condition. Recently, two topical immuno-suppressant creams have been approved for the treatment of eczema. These drugs, known as calcineurin inhibitors, are used only in cases that are non-responsive to other forms of treatment and where the immune system is strong.

Through a combination of lifestyle modification and medication, eczema outbreaks can be controlled.

Categories : Eczema

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