Eczema

What is it?

Eczema, which is also known as dermatitis, is broadly applied to a number of conditions which cause the skin to become inflamed. There are three main types of eczema: atopic, contact and seborrhoeic.

The most common type of eczema is atopic eczema. This type of eczema is especially prevalent in adolescents and children. This type of eczema is believed to stem from hereditary allergies. Indeed, it has been noted that eczema often runs in families that have asthma. This type of eczema is typically found in areas where there are folds in the skin.

Contact eczema is a type of skin irritation that occurs as the result of exposure to irritants. In most cases this type of eczema is found on the face or hands.

Seborrhoeic eczema is a type of rash that appears in areas of the body that have a lot of sebaceous glands, most commonly the scalp and the sides of the nose. Sometimes this type of eczema is called ‘cradle cap’ as many infants suffer from this skin condition.

Symptoms

  • In most cases eczema, which starts as an itch, reveals itself as patch of continually dry, red and itchy skin. In most cases eczema occurs on the face, neck, hands and arms.
  • The skin in affected areas tends to be thickened.
  • When scratched, the dry patches of skin can open which can then lead to crusting and potential infection.

Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no cure for atopic eczema. However, there are range treatments available to make the condition more manageable. In most cases, those who have been diagnosed with atopic eczema will be told to use emollients to treat the dry skin and topical corticosteroids to bring down the swelling associated with flare-ups.

As well as topical treatments, there are a number of medicines that may also be prescribed to treat eczema such as antihistamines or oral corticosteroids for severe discomfort. In addition, if eczema becomes infected, sufferers may also be prescribed a course of antibiotics to treat the infection.

In cases of contact eczema, behavioral changes can make the condition a lot easier to live with. For example if you know what irritants or allergens cause your eczema, you can try and avoid them. However, it is not always possible to avoid these triggers. As a result, many contact eczema sufferers find relief through emollients, special moisturizers that reduce water loss from skin. In severe cases, sufferers may be prescribed corticosteroids.

Regardless to the type of eczema you suffer from, it is important that you do not itch the eczema. While scratching your skin may provide temporary relief from the discomfort caused by eczema, it increases the chance of infection. It is also a good idea to keep your nails short if you suffer from eczema as this will reduce the amount of damage that you do to your skin. If your baby is suffering from eczema, anti-scratch mittens can prevent them from causing further damage.