Eczema is an inflammatory condition of the skin that causes the skin to become dry, itchy or have rash like appearances. It can appear anywhere on the skin but is mostly seen in arms and behind the knees. Eczema encompasses a group of conditions including:
- Atopic dermatitis: most common form of eczema, usually accompanied by asthma and hay fever.
- Contact dermatitis: red and irritated skin due to exposure to allergens or irritants.
- Nummular dermatitis: eczema in the form of round coin shaped spots on the skin.
- Seborrheic dermatitis: eczema that affects parts of the body that produces oil or sebum, especially scalp.
- Dyshidrotic dermatitis: eczema in the form of small blisters on hands and feet.
- Stasis dermatitis: eczema that causes swelling, itching, redness and pain.
Exact cause of eczema is unknown. It is believed to happen from a combination of genetic factors and certain triggers. An overactive immune system can be responsible which acts as a trigger and causes inflammation. Common triggers that causes eczema includes:
- Dry skin
- Irritants such as certain soaps, fragrances and fabrics
- Emotional stress
Symptoms of eczema vary for different people. Symptoms include:
- Dry skin
- Sensitive skin
- Cracked skin or scaly patches of skin
- Swelling and skin discoloration
- Small fluid filled bumps on skin
- Skin rashes
- Review of signs and symptoms
- Medical history
- Examination of the skin
- Patch testing
Preventive measures and steps to control further progression of eczema includes:
- Use gentle soaps and other cosmetic products
- Keep skin moisturized
- Wear loose-fitting clothes
- Take shorter baths or showers
- Identify and avoid the factors that causes the condition
- Dry yourself carefully
- Avoid scratching
- Apply cool compresses to your skin.
There is no complete cure for eczema. Depending on the age and severity of the condition, treatment may vary from medications to therapies.
- Antihistamines to control itching
- Antibiotics to treat infection
- Calcineurin inhibitors to reduce body’s immune response
- Other drugs and ointments to control the symptoms.
- Light therapy: a method to heal rashes using ultraviolet light.
- Relaxation: therapy done to treat individuals who scratch habitually.
- Wet dressing: wet wraps are used to avoid triggers.
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