Eczema: Types, Causes, Photos, Treatment, and More
When you first hear about the term eczema, you might think of it as dry winter skin.
However, if you ask someone living with this chronic condition, they’ll tell you that it’s much more than that.
Rashes can appear at any time of the year. Moreover, the triggers for eczema are irritants as mundane as clothes, food or the weather.
At times, symptoms are severe enough to keep people from focusing on their work as well as getting enough sleep.
This is your complete 2021 guide about eczema. Get to know about the causes, types as well as the best treatment available for eczema. So, let’s get started!
What is Eczema?
A group of conditions that lead to irritation as well as inflammation of the skin is referred to as eczema. Eczema is like a skin infection that can appear in any part of your body.
Moreover, it is common in children than in adults. Around 10 to 20% of infants and 3% of children and adults in the United States become victims of eczema.
More scientifically, we also call it atopic dermatitis.
In most children, symptoms disappear by 10 years of age.
However, some people can’t overcome the symptoms throughout their lives.
There is no cure for eczema but you can manage the symptoms to a great extent through proper treatment and avoiding the irritants.
Quick Facts About Eczema
- This skin condition is not contagious, which means it doesn’t spread from one person to another
- It is often genetic
- The triggers can be the environment as well as your stress level and certain conditions like anxiety or depression
- Sometimes, it is limited to hands and referred to as hand eczema
- It can even appear on your body if you have varicose veins as varicose eczema.
- It has a connection with other allergies
- Scratching the affected area can make it worse
- A baby or a child is more likely to be a victim in comparison to adults
- There is no cure but it can be managed
- Treatment varies depending upon the cause
- Keeping your skin moisturized and healthy can save you from this condition
There are several different types of skin conditions that can lead to eczema.
It is important to make a clear distinction between these types for the purpose of developing a rational treatment plan.
Let’s have a closer look at each type separately!
This condition of the skin has a genetic basis and leads to the most common type of eczema.
It begins to develop during an early stage of life, especially in those who are prone to inhalant allergies.
However, most probably it doesn’t have an allergic basis.
Moreover, this type is generally characterized by rashes on the cheeks, elbow, neck, creases of the knee as well as ankles.
If there is repeated exposure of your skin to toxic substances or even excessive washing, this type may develop.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis
If your body has a continuous exposure to an allergen, the immune recognition system of your body would activate at the site of exposure and may lead to dermatitis.
It most commonly occurs in people having poor circulation of blood in legs.
Moreover, the main site of body which it affects is lower legs.
This may lead to eczema ranging from pattern identical to various different types.
However, under a microscope or on growing in a culture, fungus can easily be visualized on scraping.
When human itch mite invades and produces a rash similar to other kinds of eczema, we call it as scabies.
This is also know as pompholyx.
It is a common yet poorly understood skin condition which typically affects the hands.
However, in some cases, it appears on feet.
It appears as an itchy rash having tiny blisters on the sides of palm, fingers, toes or soles.
This term is nonspecific and we use it for plaques of scaling skin that looks like the shape of coin.
Moreover, it most commonly appears in older adults at the site of lower legs.
Lichen Simplex Chronicus
It appears as thick skin plaques and usually appears on the neck and shins.
It leads to dry skin as a result of which skin cracks and oozes particularly if there is excessive dryness.
It usually affects the scalp, ears, face, and sometimes the mid-chest.
Moreover, in infants, it can appear as an oozy, weepy rash behind the ears.
However, in some cases it can be very extensive and may spread on the entire body.
Excessive irritation, inflammation, itchiness, dryness and roughness are the main symptoms.
Moreover, the symptoms may flare up, subside for a while, and then again show up.
Let’s dig in more!
People with eczema will show the following signs and symptoms that may appear anywhere on their bodies. However, the most common areas are cheeks, scalp, inner elbows, arms, or the back of knees.
It doesn’t spread with touch. Moreover, in a few cases, its severity decreases with age.
Furthermore, some other symptoms may appear as well. These include:
- red or brownish patches
- severe itching
- small and raised bumps that ooze fluid on scratching
- crusty or scaly patches of ooze when it dries and leaves a yellow color (it signals an infection)
- Thick and dry scales on skin
Moreover, if you touch or scratch eczema, it may lead to further inflammation and irritation of skin.
This can further cause infections which indicates the need of immediate treatment.
We still need some research in order to find out what actually causes eczema.
However, it’s a general notion that an overactive immune system causes eczema.
When the immune system encounters an irritant or an allergen and shows an aggressive response towards it, the system becomes overactive.
Moreover, in some cases, the cause is an abnormal response of the immune system towards proteins of the body.
Normally, the immune system remains neutral towards body proteins and only attacks the proteins from an outside source and invaders, such as viruses or bacteria.
However, in eczema, the body’s immune system fails to make a clear distinction between the two proteins which leads to inflammation.
Eczema can flare up if one or more symptoms appear. The most common triggers of flare-ups are:
- chemicals present in detergents as well as cleansers that can cause dryness of skin
- exposure of skin to scratchy and rough materials such as, wool
- direct exposure to synthetic fibers or fabrics
- elevation in body temperature
- changes in outside temperature
- sudden or rapid drop in humidity
- excessive sweating
- high-stress level
- food allergies
- infections in upper respiratory tract
- animal dander
Risk Factors for Eczema
There are various factors that may increase your chances of developing eczema.
These mostly include:
- children suffering from asthma or hay fever
- adults who develop asthma or hay fever later on, before 30 years of age
- having a family history
- having a history of allergic reactions or high sensitivity towards allergens
Your dermatologist, primary healthcare provider, or an allergist can help you figuring out the best treatment plan.
Moreover, you may find it useful to combine more than one treatment as per your doctor’s advice.
Let’s probe into all the options available to treat eczema!
In order to relieve itching, your doctor would recommend oral over-the-counter antihistamines.
Histamine triggers the allergic reactions and antihistamines work by blocking its effect.
Moreover, common examples include:
Moreover, most of these medications induce sleep and cause drowsiness.
Therefore, you should start the course after seeking proper medical advice.
Furthermore, ointments and creams having cortisone (steroid) can also reduce scaling and itching.
However, their long-term use can also show side effects, such as:
- constant irritation on skin
- thinning of skin
- discoloration of skin
Steroids having low-potency, such as hydrocortisone, are also available over the counter for the purpose of treatment.
However, if your body doesn’t respond to them, your doctor may prescribe high-potency steroids.
Moreover, in severe cases, your doctor might be prescribing oral corticosteroids.
However, these may show very serious side effects such as, bone loss.
Furthermore, your doctor may prescribe an oral antibiotic or a topical antibiotic for the purpose of treating an infection.
Other than that, immunosuppressants is also a treatment strategy that aims to prevent the overreaction of immune system.
This prevents eczema from flaring up.
However, side effects may include developing high blood pressure, cancer, kidney disease or other infections.
Light therapy is used for this purpose. It utilizes sunlamps or ultraviolet light in order to prevent the overreaction of immune system that can trigger eczema.
This usually requires a series of treatment and is likely to reduce and even clear up eczema.
It can also save your skin from any sort of bacterial infections.
Changes in Lifestyle
As stress can also trigger and worsen the symptoms, so it’s important to find ways that would reduce your stress levels.
Some of the ways include:
- deep breathing exercises
- getting adequate amount of sleep
- listening to relaxing music
- engaging in other activities that you find pleasant
An ice pack can also help relieving itching and the leading stress.
Moreover, soaking in a lukewarm bath for 15 to 20 minutes can be relaxing as well.
Eczema Home Remedies
Certain home remedies have also proven to show beneficial results.
However, because of the potential side effects, always check with your doctor before using any home remedy or starting to take any herbal supplements.
Some of the popular remedies include:
- green tea, black tea, or oolong tea
- coconut oil or sunflower oil
- borage and pimrose oils
- other relaxation techniques like guided imagery or progressive muscle relaxation
Simple changes in lifestyle can reduce the chances of eczema flare-up.
Some of the preventive measures include:
- stress reduction by using coping strategies
- getting enough sleep
- avoiding irritants, like detergents, harsh soaps as well as rough fabrics
- avoiding repetitive exposure to cold weather
- not scratching the skin
- moisturizing your skin with a cream or an ointment to save from drying
Moreover, we at Al Qudrah Medical Center provide the services of hydrafacial to combat eczema. In order to avail the services, please leave a message or call at our number.
We have covered almost all the details about eczema ranging from its types to its treatment.
Still, if you feel like adding something or have any queries, please leave your comments in the section below.
Also, feel free to share your experiences of eczema and the strategies you used to combat it.
We would be pleased to have your response.