Eczema is a dry skin condition that manifests itself in many different forms and hence can vary significantly from one sufferer to the next. It varies in severity also with mild symptoms resulting in a rash accompanied by dry, flaky and itchy skin to severe forms which result in crustiness of the skin accompanied by weeping and even bleeding and intensely itchy. If left untreated the constant scratching can cause additional problems and infection.
The word eczema derives from a Greek word meaning bubble or boil over. It’s a recurrent skin condition that is common during early childhood and infancy stages but adults are also affected by it. It’s probably more common than you realise with up to 20% of children being affected reducing to around 3 to 4% of adults. Latest estimate suggest over 30 million people in the USA alone suffer from it and one of the 1 in 12 adults wordwide.
It appears in the form os a rash which can be anywhere on the body but commonly on elbows or behind the knees in adults and the facial area (especially cheeks and chin) in babies. It can also affect the chest, back, arms and legs. Usually the itching starts before any physical manifestation appears.
In this article we examine the causes, symptoms and types of eczema and then also look at how to manage the symptoms.
Most Common Causes Of Eczema
The exact causes of eczema have not been precisely identified by the medical professionals but they are believed to be related to environmental and hereditary factors. Studies have shown that children are more prone to develop this condition especially if one of the parents has suffered from it. Chances of children suffering from it are high if both parents are sufferers.
Environmental factors attributed to the cause and/or related symptoms include:
Irritants: soaps, detergents, etc.
Allergens: Dust mites, pets, pollen etc.
Microbes: Bacteria, viruses, some fungi etc.
Hormones: Changes in hormonal levels.
Foods: Dairy products, wheat, soy meat, some vegetables etc.
Types Of Eczema
There are 8 particular types as follows:
This is the most common type and refers to the very dry, red and itchy skin particularly seen in infants. Atopic is the term, not just for eczema but for general genetic conditions including asthma, seasonal rhinitis and hay fever. It can be unsightly and itchy but is not contagious. It cannot be passed to others. Most children will grow out of the condition in just a few years.
This condition, as the name suggests, is caused by physical contact with irritants or exposure to allergens in the atmosphere. It usually affects adults and can often be work related.
Infantile Seborrhoeic Eczema:
Usually affects very young (within first 6 months) infants. It is believed to be linked to developing sebaceous glands. It often and suddenly affects the scalp where you may know it as a condition called “cradle cap”. Other areas, typically the face, skin folds and nappy areas, can equally be affected. Symptoms being yellowish, waxy scaling or red and flaky inflammation.
Adult Seborrhoeic Eczema:
Usually affects the scalp and face but, in extreme cases can also hit the same areas of the body as the infantile version as well as the chest and back. The affected area is red, scaly and itchy and will constantly shed white flaking skin.
Also called Nummular Dermatitis. Characteristics are small circular patches of eczema which will be incredibly itchy and crusty. They will ooze puss and be prone to infection before drying out to become flaky and scaly.
Also goes by the name of Dyshidrotic Eczema. This condition is confined to the hands and feet. It is unmistakable – really itchy watery filled blisters on the palms, fingers, toes and feet.
This is one for the older generations as it usually only affects the over 60’s. When it forms it leave the skin very uncomfortable and looking a little like a red or pink framed mozaic or crazy paving appearance.
Again, this form usually only affects the older generations and, in particular, those who suffer from varicose veins or related conditions. It affects the lower legs initially causing the skin to redden to a stained brown colour and becoming thicker and uneven.
How To Treat Eczema
Unfortunately, if you’re lookiung for a miracle treatment you’r going to be disappointed – at the moment there is no cure. The emphasis therefore os on management of the symptoms.
The key is to keep the skin moisturized. We need to keep the skin soft and supple. Easier said than done! It usually requires some serious medical emollients! There are one or two over the counter products that are specifically formulated to do just that – one such product is Lucent Skin Eczema Cream. You can read all about the product and a Lucent Skin Eczema Cream review here.
It goes without saying that you should always seek medical advice.
Useful Product Related Links:
A few related links:
National Eczema Society (UK).