Definition: Defining the Meaning of Eczema
Eczema is defined as a term for several different types of skin swelling. Eczema is also called dermatitis. It is not dangerous, but most types cause red, swollen and itchy skin. Factors that can cause eczema include other diseases, irritating substances, allergies and your genetic makeup. Eczema is not contagious.
Also called contact dermatitis, eczema is actually a group of skin conditions. Although it may sometimes look like a contagious condition, eczema is not contagious. People from all walks of life and all ages live with eczema; however, it typically appears in infants.
Symptoms related to eczema depend on the causes and severity of the form of eczema. A person with mild eczema has dry, hot, and itchy skin. Severe eczema causes the skin to crack, bleed, and often takes a long time to heal. Inflammation in the area is common depending on the type of eczema.
Type of eczema Include:
- Atopic eczema - Most common form of eczema; affects children and adults.Symptoms include: - extreme itchiness - dryness of the skin - redness - inflammation
- Irritant contact dermatitis - Occurs when skin becomes irritated by detergents and other chemicals (e.g. perfumes, soaps, bubble bath powder and more).
- Varicose eczema - Affects skin on the lower legs and is caused by poor circulation of blood.
- Allergic contact dermatitis - Body's immune system attacks a substance in the skin. - Symptoms are similar to those listed for atopic eczema.
- Infantile seborrhoeic eczema - Found on infants under one year old. - Often looks unpleasant but does not affect the infant's comfort and may appear on the scalp or bottom.
- Discoid eczema - Typically associated with adults. - Found on upper body and lower legs.
Dealing with eczema
In order to deal with eczema, you need to figure out what type of eczema you have. A doctor can help a person living with eczema or someone caring for a child with eczema manage the condition.
Diagnosis of eczema is not simple.
A doctor must look at the person's medical history, when they first recognized the condition and what triggers the condition. Some people with atopic dermatitis have allergies and may need allergy testing, especially if treatment with medication is not working.
Lifestyle changes are useful preventing the symptoms of eczema.
However, some of these lifestyle changes work for some people and not others. Some changes to consider include:
Wearing cotton clothing and using cotton bedding to reduce the itchiness associated with the condition. Synthetic fibers don't allow the skin to breathe and wool can irritate the skin.
Use biological laundry detergents, also avoid using fabric softeners. Synthetic laundry detergents, and fabric softeners may increase itchiness and cause a person to scratch more often. As a result, not using them may help reduce the skin's itchiness.
Vacuuming, dusting, and changing bedding regularly. This is extremely important because it reduces the number of house dust mites and the droppings from dust mites that are found in bedding, mattresses, curtains, and carpets.
Possible changes to the foods you eat. Even though the link between diet and eczema is not conclusive, making changes to certain foods consumed in some severe cases of eczema, especially in babies and young children seems beneficial. Always ask your doctor before making dietary changes to ensure the foods eaten will include all necessary nutrients for growth and development.
Common treatments for people with eczema require moisturization of the skin and use of medications, if necessary. Treatment is usually based on a person's age, health, medical history as well as the type and severity of eczema.
Possible treatments consist of:
Lotions and creams, these products are applied directly on the skin to keep in as much moisture as possible. Using organic lotions and creams may be a good alternative to non-organic moisturizers since the non-organic moisturizers contain synthetic chemicals that may cause an outbreak. Moisturizing the skin after showering helps lock in moisture.
Medications such as topical steroids, oral steroids, and topical immunomodulators: Prescription and non-prescription corticosteroids come in the form of creams and ointments that can be applied to the skin. Prescription corticosteroids are more potent than non-prescription ointments but both have potential side effects, especially if used for long periods of time.
Oral steroids are usually prescribed for severe outbreaks. Topical immunomodulators do not contain steroids and are available by prescription to treat atopic eczema.
Other tips that may help people with eczema improve the skin's condition include:
Keeping nails short
Avoiding sudden changes in temperatures (e.g. going from cold environments to hot environments)
Relaxing to reduce stress.
Quick Facts: Eczema
- Eczema is not like acne, they are completely different conditions.
- The word eczema comes from a Greek word that means to effervesce or bubble or boil over.
- There is no cure for eczema. Although steroids have been used for a long time to treat eczema, they are not a cure.
- Eczema is a chronic disease. You can prevent some types of eczema by avoiding irritants, stress, and the things you are allergic to.
- The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis. It is an allergic condition that makes your skin dry and itchy. It is most common in babies and children.
- Most people with eczema can go swimming. However, some people who have severe eczema find that the chemicals used in swimming pools or the salt in sea water makes their eczema worse.
- Hand eczema presents on the palms and soles, and may sometimes be difficult or impossible to differentiate from atopic dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, and psoriasis, which also commonly involve the hands.