In our daily, fast-paced lives, we often miss the signs where our body tells us something is wrong. Believing an itch to be a simple rash or common allergy, we tend to ignore it. However, there is more to eczema than what meets the eye. Eczema is one such disease that needs to be caught early on. Please keep reading to know what causes eczema, its symptoms, various types, and, more importantly, how to treat eczema.
What is Eczema?
Atopic dermatitis, commonly called eczema, is a chronic disease that causes skin inflammation, rendering the skin itchy and irritated. It is not a simple rash, and the condition could worsen if not correctly tended to. It is commonly associated with adults, though children may also suffer from it. The severity of the condition differs from person to person.
Different Types of Eczema
Eczema can erupt in different forms with varying degrees of impact. Let us take a look at some of them:
Coming in contact with irritants (chemicals your body is allergic to) is one of the leading causes of contact dermatitis. Its symptoms include itching, burning, and redness of the skin. Eliminating the irritants will stop the inflammation along with the other symptoms. Common irritants are soap, cleaners, detergents, and certain fabrics
“Nummular” means coin in Latin. Nummular dermatitis is manifested through round-shaped spots that appear on the skin. It is caused by an insect bite or coming in contact with allergic substances like metals or other chemicals. These round-shaped spots are often extremely itchy and scaly.
Dyshidrotic eczema, usually associated with women, leads to the formation of blisters on the hands and feet that are filled with fluid. The skin can also flake and crack. Allergies, damp hands and feet, coming in contact with substances like nickel, cobalt, or chromium salt, are the main culprits of this form of eczema. Stress is also considered a significant contributing factor.
As the name indicates, it only affects the hands. Hand eczema, similar to contact dermatitis, is caused by coming into contact with irritants. For example, contact with chemicals while dry cleaning, nurses, plumbers, and other such instances. The hands get red, dry, and itchy with the formation of cracks and blisters.
leaking out of hampered veins into the skin causes stasis dermatitis. This can lead to swelling, redness, itching, and pain. A disruption or malfunction in blood moving towards the heart causes the blood to pool in the lower body. This results in stasis dermatitis, with a primary symptom being varicose veins. Open sores may also develop on the legs and feet.
Atopic dermatitis (AD), otherwise known as atopic eczema, is a chronic disease common among children. Living with it can be difficult, depending on the symptoms, but the proper treatment or a combination of treatments can effectively manage the symptoms.
Symptoms of Atopic Eczema:
- Rashes in the creases of elbows and knees, causing the affected area to get thicker or change its complexion. The skin may harden and become leather-like to battle against infections.
- Appearance of small bumps filled with fluid.
- Rash on scalp and cheeks (predominant in babies and children).
- Infection of skin when scratched.
Atopic Dermatitis is not contagious. How long eczema lasts depends upon the underlying cause and one’s proclivity to the condition. Normal eczema can last for a few weeks, while chronic eczema lasts for a lifetime with occasional flare-ups. Allergic triggers may result in longer-lasting flares.
Causes of Atopic Dermatitis –
The cause of atopic dermatitis is still not known, though usually, any skin changes cause it to dry out immediately and become inflamed. How the skin works to keep it hydrated may be affected by –
- Exposure to irritants such as smoke, soaps, air pollutants, pet hair, dust and dust mites.
- Alterations in genes.
- Problems with the immune system that lead the skin to become inflamed.
- Climate and stress also play a role in exacerbating the condition.
There is no cure for eczema. Though with the right preventive measures and prescribed medication, one can control the symptoms.
Doctors usually prescribe a treatment plan based on:
- Location of the rash and the severity of the itching.
- Irritants that trigger the rash.
- Response to treatments to find out what works best for patient.
Treatments generally are a combination of things and may include:
- Medicines prescribed by the doctor.
- Skincare routine like applying creams and moisturisers within a few minutes of bathing.
- Phototherapy using ultraviolet A or B light waves.
Additional topical or oral antibiotic treatments might be recommended by the doctor if an infection is noticed.
Common Irritants That Cause Eczema Flare-Ups
- Skin irritants:
Where possible, avoid triggers that could directly inflame the skin. These may include fabrics such as wool, chemicals, humidity, and dryness.
- Types of food:
Food allergies affect about a third of children with eczema. They may exacerbate atopic dermatitis, but avoidance diets do not cure the problem. Food allergy testing is required if there is a possibility of a life-threatening reaction. Generally, eggs, cow milk, soy, wheat, peanuts, and fish can act as allergens.
- House dust mites:
The most relevant airborne allergens for AD are produced by dust mites causing hypersensitivity in atopic individuals — those with atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis, and allergic asthma. Clothing, soft toys, and pillows bring about direct contact with these allergens.
Not all substances act as irritants to all individuals. Find out what is allergic to you and avoid it.
There is no cure for atopic eczema. By learning about the triggers and taking good care of the skin, one can reduce the frequency and severity of AD flare-ups. The right treatment will help manage the symptoms capably. The effects of eczema are often linked with depression and anxiety as many people feel embarrassed and self-conscious about their skin. In such a case, seeking professional help from a dermatologist will yield the best results. Treatments for eczema are not one-size-fits-all. It is best to consult an expert dermatologist at the earliest and get the appropriate treatment.