Eczema – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

March 19 22:10 2019 Print This Article

Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) is an inflammation of the skin. It results in itchy, red, thickening and scaling skin eruptions. The dominant symptom is itching, which can be severe. Eczema is not contagious. The most common type of eczema is called atopic dermatitis, which is an allergic reaction. Eczema is often very itchy and when you scratch it, the skin becomes red and inflamed. As many as 15 million people in the United States have some form of eczema. It occurs in adults and children, but most often appears on babies. You are more likely to have eczema if you have a family history of the condition. Eczema can be triggered by just about anything coming in contact with the skin. It occurs in atopic people, who are extra sensitive to skin irritation. Dry, flaky skin appears over red, inflamed areas, causing intense itching and burning. Eczema is a very common condition, and it affects all races and ages, including young infants. About 1-2 percent of adults have eczema, and as many as 20 percent of children are affected. It usually begins early in life, even before asthma or hay fever. Most affected individuals have their first episode before age 5 years. For some, the disease will improve with time. For others, however, eczema is a chronic or recurrent disorder. Although it can occur just once, it usually occurs on and off throughout life, or lasts the entire lifetime. Eczema can be a difficult, frustrating condition. The natural human desire to scratch or rub an itchy rash just makes the condition worse, and treatments can be slow and are not always completely effective.

Eczema is a general term for rash-like skin conditions. There are different types of eczema. The most common type is atopic eczema. In this type of eczema there is a typical pattern of skin inflammation which causes the symptoms. The word ‘atopic’ describes people with certain ‘allergic’ tendencies. However, atopic eczema is not just a simple allergic condition. People with atopic eczema have an increased chance of developing other ‘atopic’ conditions such as asthma and hay fever. Eczema can affect any part of the body. In infants, eczema typically occurs on the forehead, cheeks, forearms, legs, scalp, and neck. In children and adults, eczema typically occurs on the face, neck, and the insides of the elbows, knees, and ankles. After “what is eczema”, the most common question we are asked is “what causes eczema.”

Causes of Eczema

There may be many causes which can lead to eczema, but the exact cause of eczema is not known till now. Some forms of eczema can be triggered by substances that come in contact with the skin, such as soaps, cosmetics, clothing, detergents, jewelry, or sweat. Environmental allergens (substances that cause allergic reactions) may also cause outbreaks of eczema. Changes in the weather, or even psychological stress for some people lead to outbreaks of eczema.

Find common causes and risk factors of Eczema:

  • Bacterial and viral skin infections may also cause eczema.
  • Fungal skin infection.
  • Food allergy is more frequent in infants and children with atopic dermatitis. The food allergies includes allergies with – nuts, eggs, dairy products.
  • Changes in temperature or humidity, are one of the main causes of eczema.
  • Intense emotion or stress, may also cause eczema.

Signs and Symptoms of Eczema

Sign and symptoms may include the following:

  • Itching.
  • Itchy blisters.
  • Redness on skin.
  • Rough and thickened skin.
  • Dry and flaky skin.
  • Severe itchiness.
  • Leg rash.
  • Rash inside the elbow.
  • Arm rash.

Treatment forEczema

Treatment may include:

  • Avoid frequent use of soaps, hot water, and other cleansing procedures (especially if you have a dry skin type) that tend to remove natural oil from the skin.
  • A very common treatment for treating eczema involves – applying lotions, creams, or ointments to keep the skin as moist as possible.
  • Avoid scratching the lesions.
  • Topical corticosteroids, reduce inflammation in the skin and are usually safe and very effective in curing eczema when used correctly. Mild corticosteroids are generally used for children and on the face and flexures, eg crease of the elbow, behind the knees etc.
  • The treatment with antimicrobial medicines, such as antibiotics, antifungals or antivirals helps, to reduce the swelling area of skin.
  • The use of immunosuppressant medicines, may be tried to bring the inflammation of skin under control.
  • Avoid excessive bathing and lengthy exposure to baths to reduce flare-ups.
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