What is Eczema

Understanding eczema is the first step towards successful treatment. Eczema is one of the most common skin ailments and affects millions of people around the world. While most people may be familiar with eczema in children, particularly babies that tend to get this condition it affects many adults as well.

Also known as “dermatitis”, the term eczema comes from the Greek which means “eruption” and accurately describes the effect that it has on the skin. Although eczema is known to have been around for many thousands of years and arguably since the dawn of our species, there is very little data from the time before the Second World War. Afterwards, the rates of eczema spread rapidly over the latter half of the 20th century, particularly among school age children.

The developed world has seen a rise in these skin conditions which has been quite dramatic and so far not fully explained. It is known that more females than males have this condition and that teens and young adults have experienced a dramatic rise in this condition. In places like England, the condition seems to have undergone a dramatic rise in recent years.

The exact reasons for this rise are not fully understood, but it is known that during the 20th century many of the developed countries went from an agriculture-based economy to an industrial or technology based which caused many people to go from outdoor work to indoor work which may be one of the factors in the rise of eczema.

What is Eczema?

Basically, it is an inflammation of the skin at various points that is characterized by the following symptoms;

  • Crusting Patches
  • Weeping
  • Itchiness
  • Erythematous & more

Eczema is not one type of skin condition, but a broad range of conditions that tend to fall into the same category. Generally speaking, most eczema will include various symptoms accompanied by what appears to be a rash on the skin. The bumps may be crusting, flaking and even oozing depending on the severity. There is also a temporary discoloration that will last for a few days.

Unfortunately, the itchiness causes scratching which only inflames the eczema causes even more which leads to the condition lasting even longer. Resisting the temptation to scratch is certainly difficult, but there are a number of treatments available.

It is estimated that this particular disease affects over 230 million people annually which will include eczema in babies as well.

Baby Eczema

Although it is generally the same as eczema in adults, eczema in babies is different in the sense that the causes are often associated with diaper rash which clears up with proper treatment. By the time the baby has grown to be a toddler, the cases of eczema usually disappear.

The conditions created by the diaper holding the baby’s excrement and urine close to the skin offers the ideal conditions for eczema to form. Proper cleaning and using baby powder helps dry out the skin and makes it less vulnerable for developing conditions suitable for eczema. When it comes to eczema in children who have passed the stage for diapers, it is generally the same as what happens to adults.

Environment & Heredity

These are the two eczema causes in adults and they can be inter-related as well. The environmental causes are created by living in an unusually clean environment that actually turns out to create the same conditions for certain forms of asthma and other allergic diseases where the body will overreact when faced with changing environmental conditions.

Basically, when the skin is affected by something minor such as contact with the excrement of house dust mites, the immune system will overreact and create the conditions of eczema. This is also why the appearance of eczema may change with different people because their immune systems react in a different fashion.

Heredity or genetics is the other source of eczema as people who contain the gene filaggrin are more susceptible to getting various skin conditions. People with celiac disease are also more vulnerable as well, indicating that there is a genetic link in those who have had parents or grandparents with this particular condition.

How to Treat Eczema

It must be noted that there is currently no cure for eczema. Because it is not a disease per say, but rather the overreaction of the immune system, there is no treatment that will actually stop eczema from occurring.

Fortunately, there are a number of methods that can be used as successful eczema treatment. For the most part, people can use topical moisturizers and steroid creams which will have a soothing effect on the skin.

Moisturizers: This will keep the skin soft and supple, preventing the dryness that occurs which starts the itching that can only make the issue worse. This allows for the natural healing of the skin once the breakout has reached its peak. Many natural remedies for eczema are based on moisturizing the skin so that it keeps from drying out and allowing the condition to linger for longer periods of time.

Steroid Creams: These are usually prescribed topical creams that will significantly reduce the itching and allow the skin to heal properly. In most cases, a dermatologist or doctor will prescribe such treatment for those who suffer from repeated bouts.

Calcineurin Inhibitors: This is another topical cream that inhibits certain aspects of the skin when applied which reduces the appearance of eczema, particularly the itchiness and redness.

Light Therapy: Another eczema natural treatment is the use of ultraviolet (UV) light to help treat the skin. While this method is not quite as effective as certain topical creams, it has shown to be effective for many different people. This therapy was based on the fact that people who regularly expose their skin to sunlight suffer from fewer cases of eczema.

These are just some of the eczema treatments that can be used to reduce the effects of the skin condition. For those who suffer from repeated bouts of eczema, it is highly recommended that you see your doctor to get the proper advice and treatment.

Many times, simple rashes and eczema are wrongly diagnosed when one is mistaken for the other.

Below is a list of some of the different types of eczema and their general symptoms and appearance.

Dyshidrotic Eczema (Discoid Eczema)

 

This is among the rarest kinds of eczema and often afflicts the palms of both hands and the feet’s soles. The meaning of dyshidrotic is sweating too much and this was at first thought to be the reason for this kind of eczema. It appears in form of a rash in the initial stages but later develops into small blisters leading to the skin becoming thick, swelling or cracking and severe itching.

This kind of eczema was once referred to as housewife’s eczema, most probably because housework involves housewives utilizing different detergents with hands, which is a trigger for this problem.

Nummular Eczema

Nummular Eczema is probably one of the most persistent kinds of eczema. It leads to itchy rashes which appear on the skin in form of patches shaped like coins.

Lesions normally grow to be scaly with a clear center and many times are wrongly taken to be psoriasis or ringworm. The causes of nummular eczema are not known for certain, but it is suspected to be a side effect of medicine. In the winter season, the cases of this problem become common.

Eczema Hepeticum

This is thought to be a skin disorder triggered by a viral infection. It is a very rare kind of eczema but needs urgent medical help. This type of eczema normally starts as an atopic dermatitis turns out to be the virus for herpes simplex which causes complications.

Even though it starts as a simple rash, this later turns into blisters leading to fever and illness. It is important to seek treatment as these blisters may lead to infection causing bleeding.

 

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