Description of Eczema
Eczema (means boiling skin) is a condition wherein patches of skin become rough and inflamed with blisters which in the long run may cause itching and bleeding. Eczema is also known as atopic dermatitis. Between 10% and 20% of people worldwide develop atopic dermatitis, making it the most common type of eczema.
Different types of eczema include:
1. Infantile eczema: Eczema beginning during infancy is called infantile eczema. In infants, the itchy patches tend to develop on the scalp and face. For some children, the condition completely resolves by the time they are 2 years old.
2. Hand eczema: Having atopic dermatitis increases the risk of developing hand eczema. Some people whose atopic dermatitis clears during adolescence develop hand eczema as adults. About 50% of those who develop atopic dermatitis continue to experience skin inflammation as adults, often in the form of hand eczema.
Causes and Risk Factors
Common causes and triggers are:
1. Certain foods
2. Everyday objects like wool and other fabric
3. Juices from meats and fruits
5. Overexposure to an irritant or allergen
Signs and Symptoms
1. In infants, the patches usually appear on the face.
2. During the teenage and young-adult years, the itchy patches often develop on the elbows and knees, hands, feet, ankles, wrists, face, neck, and upper chest, around the eyes and on the eyelids.
3. These patches are typically dry, red to brownish gray, and may be scaly or have thickened skin. Scratching often leads to:
d) Release of clear fluid
e) Crusting and scaling of the skin
Complications and When Should You See a Doctor
1. Severe infections secondary to scratching
2. Dark pigmentation on healing of the inflamed skin
3. Psychological trauma due to frustration
4. Irritation due to irritable skin
1. Skin tests and blood tests can identify a food allergy, asthma, and hay fever. These tests are seldom helpful for identifying the cause of eczema.
2. Long-term steroids and immunosuppressants may cause complications such as skin atrophy, secondary infections, weight gain, diabetes, etc. may be possible.
Preventive measures include:
1. Avoid triggers
2. Avoid contact with airborne substances
3. Protect hands against soaps, cleansers, and other chemicals by wearing gloves.
4. Use lukewarm water and less soap when washing the hands.
5. To keep hands soft and supple, apply moisturizers throughout the day.
1. A combination of therapies along with lifestyle changes can help to manage the disease.
2. You may be recommended to apply corticosteroid or one of the newer immunomodulators to the skin to reduce the inflammation and itch.
3. You may be prescribed an antibiotic in case of an infection.
4. For severe cases, ultraviolet (UV) light therapy or oral immunosuppressing agents may be given.
Frequently Asked Questions about Eczema
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