What is Eczema?

By  , Expert Content
Apr 07, 2012

Eczema is a common skin disorder. The word ‘eczema’ is derived from Greek word that means ‘to boil over’. The incidence and prevalence of eczema has increased over the past few decades, for reasons that are not understood. The probable cause include increasing exposure to allergens (protein substances to which people can become allergic), such as house dust mite and other environmental factors and workplace exposure to irritant chemicals. In the homes, increased use of cleaning agents, solvents, detergents, oils and other materials, which are potentially harmful to skin, has probably increased the rate of eczema.

Types of eczema

There are several types of eczema. Some of the common types of eczema are:

  • Allergic contact eczema.
  • Atopic eczema.
  • Discoid eczema.
  • Irritant contact eczema.
  • Seborrhoeic eczema.

Atopic eczema:
People with atopic or ‘allergic’ type eczema may also have hay fever or asthma.

Allergic contact eczema: It is caused due to skin contact with substance to which you are sensitive. The same substance may not cause eczema in a person who is not sensitive to it.

Irritant contact eczema:
Skin contact with irritating chemicals, powders, cleaning agents, etc. causes irritant contact eczema. Contact with these substances can cause eczema in any person, but the degree of sensitivity to these can vary in different people .

Discoid eczema: The skin lesions (eczema) appear as discrete islands of patches on a background of normal skin.

Seborrhoeic eczema: In infants it may occur in the nappy area and the scalp (cradle cap). In adults, it usually occurs on the scalp and in the skin creases between the nose and sides of the mouth. It is caused possibly due to an increased sensitivity to yeast living on the skin.

Signs and symptoms of eczema

Whatever may be the cause, signs and symptoms of different forms of eczema are more or less similar. Common signs and symptoms of eczema include:

  • Itching and redness of affected areas of skin.
  • Dry and flaky skin, with thickening in the areas that have been scratched.
  • Often there may be lumps or blisters in affected areas.
  • Weeping or crusty deposits if the blisters burst, or if scratching damages the skin.

Treatment of eczema

Appropriate treatment can control symptoms in most people – but severe eczema can be difficult to clear completely. Adherence to recommended treatment usually works--however there is no cure for eczema. In most cases it is difficult to identify and eliminate the single causative agent causing the skin reaction. Following general measures of care of skin mentioned below can be helpful:

  • Avoiding skin irritants (such as scented soaps, cosmetics, laundry detergents);
  • Keeping skin well moisturized;
  • Avoiding sweating and overheating, sudden changes in temperature and humidity,
  • Scratching; and
  • Wearing loose-fitting cotton clothes and adherence to treatment can control eczema.



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