Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a common skin condition that causes the skin to become red, itchy, and inflamed. It is a chronic condition that can affect people of all ages, but it is most common in infants and children.
Eczema is part of a group of conditions known as atopic diseases, which also include asthma and hay fever. People with eczema often have a personal or family history of these other conditions.
The exact cause of eczema is not known, but it is thought to be related to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some research suggests that people with eczema may have a defect in the skin’s barrier function, which allows moisture to escape and makes the skin more susceptible to irritation and infection.
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a common skin condition that causes red, itchy, and inflamed patches of skin to develop on the body. Symptoms of eczema can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition, but common symptoms include:
- Dry, scaly, or rough patches of skin
- Redness and swelling of the skin
- Itching, which can be severe and intense
- Blisters that may ooze or crust over
- Thickened, cracked, or leathery skin in severe cases
Symptoms of eczema may come and go, with periods of time when the condition is worse (flare-ups) and periods when the symptoms are less severe (remissions). Flare-ups can be triggered by a variety of factors, including exposure to irritants, allergens, stress, and changes in temperature or humidity.
In addition to the skin symptoms, people with eczema may also experience:
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Swelling around the eyes
- Dry, flaky scalp
- Crusting or scaling of the eyelids
- Dry, red, or cracked lips
- Itching or burning of the nose and ears
If you think you or your child may have eczema, it is important to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. A doctor can determine the type and severity of the condition and recommend the appropriate treatment options.
The exact cause of eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is not known. However, it is thought to be related to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Research suggests that people with eczema may have a defect in the skin’s barrier function, which allows moisture to escape and makes the skin more susceptible to irritation and infection. This defect may be caused by a mutation in the gene that codes for the protein filaggrin, which helps to maintain the skin’s barrier function.
In addition to genetic factors, there are several environmental triggers that can cause eczema symptoms to worsen or flare up. These triggers can vary from person to person, but common triggers include:
- Exposure to irritants, such as certain soaps and detergents
- Exposure to allergens, such as dust mites, pet dander, and pollen
- Dry air or changes in temperature or humidity
- Infections, such as colds and the flu
It is important to note that eczema is not caused by poor hygiene or a lack of cleanliness. In fact, frequent bathing and the use of harsh soaps and detergents can actually worsen eczema symptoms. It is important to avoid known triggers and practice good skin care to manage and prevent flare-ups.
Types Of Eczema
There are several different types of eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, which can cause different symptoms and affect different parts of the body. The most common types of eczema include:
- Atopic dermatitis: This is the most common form of eczema, and it typically develops in childhood. It causes dry, itchy, and inflamed patches of skin on the face, arms, and legs.
- Contact dermatitis: This type of eczema occurs when the skin comes into contact with a substance that irritates it or causes an allergic reaction. It can cause red, itchy, and swollen patches of skin at the site of contact.
- Dyshidrotic eczema: This type of eczema affects the hands and feet, and it causes small, itchy blisters to form on the palms, soles, and sides of the fingers and toes.
- Nummular eczema: This type of eczema causes coin-shaped patches of red, itchy, and scaly skin to develop on the arms, legs, and torso.
- Seborrheic dermatitis: This type of eczema affects the scalp and face, and it causes red, flaky, and greasy patches of skin to form. It is also known as dandruff.
In addition to these types of eczema, there are several other rarer forms that can affect different parts of the body. It is important to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan if you think you or your child may have eczema.
Treatment for eczema typically involves the use of medications to control symptoms and prevent flare-ups. Some of the most commonly used medications for eczema include:
- Topical corticosteroids: These medications are applied directly to the skin to reduce inflammation and relieve itching. They come in a variety of strengths, and they are typically used on a short-term basis to control severe flare-ups.
- Topical immunomodulators: These medications work by suppressing the immune system, which can help to reduce inflammation and prevent flare-ups. They are typically used on a long-term basis to prevent eczema symptoms from returning.
- Antibiotics: If the skin becomes infected, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat the infection and prevent it from spreading.
In addition to medication, there are several lifestyle changes that can help to manage eczema symptoms and prevent flare-ups. These include:
- Avoiding triggers that can cause eczema symptoms to worsen, such as certain soaps and detergents, and allergens like dust mites and pet dander.
- Practicing good skin care, such as using moisturizers to keep the skin hydrated and avoiding hot water, which can strip the skin of its natural oils.
- Wearing loose, comfortable clothing made of soft, breathable fabrics.
- Using a humidifier to add moisture to the air, which can help to prevent the skin from becoming dry and itchy.
Eczema is a chronic condition, so it cannot be cured. However, with proper treatment and management, symptoms can be effectively controlled and flare-ups can be prevented. It is important to work closely with a doctor to develop a treatment plan that is right for you.