What is Eczema?
“Eczema is the name for a group of conditions that cause the skin to become red, itchy and inflamed.” (https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/types-of-eczema/)
Eczema is very common, affecting over 30 million Americans. Mild cases of eczema involve dry or itchy skin, while more severe conditions can cause crusting or bleeding.
What Causes Eczema?
No form of eczema is contagious. Healthy skin contains layers of skin cells, water and fat. Those with eczema may have trouble keeping enough fat and oil and retaining water. This leads the skin to become dry and cracked. Other factors include genetics and environmental triggers. There are several different types of eczema and it’s possible to have more than one condition at once.
Types of Eczema
- Atopic dermatitis: This is the most common form of eczema and it emerges in the form of a red, itchy rash or raised skin which is typically found on the cheeks, arms, and legs. Atopic dermatitis generally appears in the first six months of a person’s life; it is the most severe and long-lasting form of eczema. Researchers believe that both genetics and environmental factors play a part.
- Contact dermatitis: Irritant contact dermatitis. There are two types of contact dermatitis, irritant and allergic. Irritant contact dermatitis is the more common form and is a non-allergic reaction. Responses vary as some people can reaction after a single exposure whereas others present symptoms only after repeated exposure. Mild irritants may evoke dry or chapped skin, red, swollen, or scaly skin, or with repeated exposure: sores and blisters. Strong irritants can cause burning, stinging, or inflamed skin, as well as fluid-filled blisters. Common irritants include toxic substances, solvents, shampoos, plants, fertilizers and pesticides. Allergic contact dermatitis. This skin condition occurs when you come into contact with a substance that causes an allergic reaction. Symptoms can take hours or even weeks to present, and can appear as itchy skin, rash, burning, stinging, hives, fluid-filled or oozing blisters. You should seek medical attention immediately if you experience difficulty breathing, confusion, or swelling of the face or eyes.
- Dyshidrotic eczema: Because the skin isn’t able to protect itself properly, people with dyshidrotic eczema experience small, itchy blisters, typically on the hands and feet. These blisters are very painful and the skin remains red and cracked even as it heals. Triggers include stress, hands and feet that remain wet for a long period of time, and exposure to certain metals or chemicals. Pompholyx is another name for dyshidrotic eczema.
- Hand eczema: Also known as hand dermatitis, this condition affects up to 10% of the population. Hand eczema often presents initially as dry, chapped skin, however, the hands can form painful, bleeding cracks. Other symptoms include patches of red or brown irritated skin, scaly and inflamed skin, itchy blisters, or a burning sensation. Hand eczema can result from both genetic factors and contact with irritating substances.
- Lichen Simplex Chronicus: This skin condition begins with an itchy patch of skin, which escalates upon scratching. The condition is not life threatening or contagious but it can have a serious impact on your quality of life by disrupting sleep and/or sexual activity. It is also characterized by the leathery or scaly texture that the skin takes on after repeated scratching. These areas can become raised and appear darker than the rest of your skin. Lichen simplex chronicus can be caused by stress, injury to a nerve, or irritants such as bug bites or tight clothing.
- Nummular dermatitis or discoid eczema: This form of eczema is different from others and can be difficult to treat. Nummular dermatitis is very similar in appearance to ringworm, resembling a coin-shaped lesion on arms, legs, midsection, or hands. It’s very important for your doctor to ensure that it is not a fungal infection. Nummular dermatitis may present after a skin injury such as an insect bite, an abrasion, or a burn. Other triggers include cold weather and inflammation. The patient may see one or more patches which can last for weeks or months.
- Seborrheic dermatitis: This is a very common skin disease that causes a rash and can present in infants or adults. Babies can experience “cradle cap”, a form of seborrheic dermatitis, which forms scaly, greasy patches on the baby’s scalp. Seborrheic dermatitis can also form a red rash in their diaper area, which is often mistaken for diaper rash. In adults, seborrheic dermatitis can surface in the form of dandruff or skin flakes on your scalp, red skin, itchy skin, or greasy patches of skin covered with white or yellow scales.
- Stasis dermatitis: This occurs in people with poor circulation or problems with their veins, predominantly in the lower legs. “Stasis dermatitis is most common in the lower legs because leg veins have one-way valves, which play an important role in circulating our blood.” (https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/eczema/stasis-dermatitis) Common symptoms include swelling, redness, scaling, itching, or pain. Severe cases may involve oozing, cracking, or infection. Stasis dermatitis is most common in adults over 50, generally affecting women more often than men.
Treatment for Eczema
- Atopic dermatitis– In infants, it’s important to identify and avoid skin irritants, avoid extreme temperatures, and lubricate the child’s skin with oils, creams, and ointments. For adolescents and adults, your dermatologist may prescribe creams, oral medications, or injections.
- Contact dermatitis (allergic and irritant)- When a reaction has occurred, your dermatologist may prescribe oral medications (including antihistamines), steroid creams, or ointments. Once you’re aware of the irritant or allergen, you should take steps to avoid it.
- Dyshidrotic eczema– Your dermatologist may prescribe a topical steroid to relieve itchiness as well as provide recommendations for prevention and management.
- Hand eczema– It’s first necessary to identify the trigger for the irritated skin. This can range from chemicals to even something as seemingly harmless as water. (Having wet hands throughout the day can cause hand eczema.) In addition to avoiding the trigger, it’s important to moisturize hands, focusing on moisturizers with high oil content, or even a greasy ointment such as petroleum jelly. (Those with high water content will continue to dry the hands.)
- Lichen simplex chronicus– In order to diagnose lichen simplex chronicus, your dermatologist may need to perform a skin biopsy. Treatment options include anti-inflammatory medicated creams, corticosteroid injections, anti-itch medications, and anti-anxiety medications.
- Nummular dermatitis– can be treated with prescription steroids or corticosteroid cream, moisturizer, antibiotics, or antihistamines. Your doctor may also recommend light therapy or bed rest in a moist room (achieved with a humidifier).
- Seborrheic dermatitis– When Seborrheic dermatitis occurs in adults, it can last for the rest of their lives. Patients should pay attention to their triggers, which can include factors such as stress or weather changes. Treatment options include medicated shampoos, creams, and lotions. Dermatologists may also recommend antifungal gels, creams, shampoos or medication in pill form. In infants, the condition may clear on its own, whether the dermatitis is on the scalp or not. If treatment is necessary, your dermatologist may recommend cleansing the baby’s scalp daily with a baby shampoo, gently brushing away scales, or applying medication to the affected area.
- Stasis dermatitis– Wearing pressure stockings and elevating the legs are both helpful in moving the fluid and reducing the swelling, however, the underlying condition should be addressed. Your dermatologist may prescribe a topical steroid to help with inflammation and itching.
Eczema Treatment in Lithia and Valrico, FL
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