What is eczema?
It is a general term used to describe many different types of conditions including: atopic dermatitis (the most common, most severe, and most long lasting), seborrheic dermatitis, nummular eczema, irritant contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, and allergic contact dermatitis.
All types of eczema cause your skin to itch and be red or inflamed. Some types cause blisters, oozing, and peeling of your skin. Usually eczema starts with itching, redness and bumps, which then ooze and crust, and eventually make your skin feel leathery.
What causes eczema?
The causes of eczema are not exactly known but are thought to be varied and depend on the particular type of eczema that a person has. Atopic eczema is thought to be a hereditary condition. It is proposed that people with atopic eczema are sensitive to allergens in the environment which are harmless to others. In atopy there is an excessive reaction by the immune system producing inflamed, irritated and sore skin. Associated atopic conditions include asthma and hayfever. Other types of eczema are caused by irritants such as chemicals and detergents. Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by an allergic reaction resulting in eczema from chemicals or metals in the environment. In later years, stasis dermatitis is a type of eczema that can be caused by poor blood circulation in the legs.
Can anyone get eczema?
Eczema can affect anyone, however it is most common in young children. It is rare for a child younger than 2 months of age to develop eczema and the condition commonly subsides by the time a child starts school. Eczema can also affect adults. Some will carry it through from childhood whilst others will develop it for the first time as an adult. It affects males and females equally.
What is the treatment for eczema?
Eczema is a very individualized condition, affecting each person differently. Similarly its treatment for each person will vary. The main aims of treating eczema are to control the dryness and itching. Regular use of moisturizers and emollients is the basis of all treatment. Determining and avoiding trigger factors will also reduce the eczema considerably.