Dermatologist Leamington - Eczema is a form of dermatitis or inflammation of the outer layer of the skin called the epidermis. The word comes from the Greek language and translates to "to boil over." In England, about 1 in 9 people or an estimated 5,773,700 people have been diagnosed with eczema at some point in their lives. In some languages, the words dermatitis and eczema are synonymous and usually the two conditions are classified together. In other languages, the term eczema implies a chronic condition and dermatitis refers to an acute one.
The word "eczema" covers a range of persistent skin conditions. These include recurring skin dryness and rashes that have connected symptoms of dryness, itching, crusting, flaking, bleeding, oozing, blistering and skin oedema or swelling. Every so often, temporary skin discoloration can result. As well, scratching open a lesion which is in the healing process may enlarge the rash and could cause possible scarring.
Describing the indications of eczema could be quite confusing. The descriptions can consist of the specific appearance, the location or the possible cause. Many sources even use the terms atopic dermatitis which is the most common type of eczema and the term eczema interchangeably with could add to the confusion.
The following classifications are ordered by incidence frequency.
Atopic eczema, which is also known as atopic dermatitis, infantile eczema or flexural eczema, is an allergic disease believed to have a hereditary factor. Atopic eczema is prominent in families with members who also suffer from asthma. There tends to be an itchy rash that develops on the inside of elbows, head and scalp, on the buttocks and behind the knees. This form of eczema is rather common in developed nations. It could be difficult to differentiate between irritant contact dermatitis.
The categories that contact dermatitis falls into is irritant and allergic. Irritant dermatitis can be caused to specific irritants consisting of detergents such as sodium lauryl sulphate. Allergic dermatitis can take place as a result of a delayed reaction to particular allergen such as poison ivy or nickel. Wet cement is an example of a substance that acts as both an irritant and an allergen. Phototoxic dermatitis can occur along with different substances after sunlight exposure. Roughly three quarters of contact eczema cases are the irritant type. This is the most common occupational skin disease. If traces of the offending substance could be removed from one's environment and avoided, contact eczema could be curable.
There is a type of eczema that becomes worse in dry winter weather and commonly affects the trunk and the limbs. It is referred to as xerotic eczema or craquele eczema, winter itch, asteatotic eczema, pruritus hiemalis or craquelatum eczema. The tender, itchy skin resembles a dry and cracked river bed. This condition is very common amongst older patients. A connected disorder is Ichthyosis.
Cradle cap within infants is officially referred to as Seborrhoeic dermatitis or Seborrheic. This is a condition that is usually classified as a form of eczema which is associated directly to dandruff. It causes a greasy or dry peeling of the scalp and could even have an effect on the eyebrows, face and sometimes the trunk. This is considered a harmless condition except in severe conditions of cradle cap. In newborns, it presents as a crusty, thick, yellow scalp rash which is called cradle cap. This condition has been connected to a lack of biotin and is generally curable.
Less Common Types of Eczema
One more kind of eczema is referred to as Dyshidrosis or pompholyx eczema, dyshidrotic eczema, vesicular palmoplantar dermatitis or housewife's eczema. This kind is known for just showing up on the soles, palms and sides of toes and fingers. It presents with small opaque bumps known as vesicles, cracks and thickening skin are accompanied by itching that worsens at night. This is a common form of hand eczema and it becomes worse in warm climate.
Venous e., Discoid e., Duhring's Disease or DermaDermatitisetiformis, Neurodermatitis, and Autoeczematization are other less common forms of eczema, that are overlaid by viral infections. Some eczemas result from underlying disease, as in lymphoma for instance. There are various other rare eczematous disorders which exist in addition to these too.
Some attribute eczema to the hygiene hypothesis. This particular theory postulates that the cause of asthma, eczema as well as other allergic diseases is due to an overly clean environment. This particular theory is supported by epidemiologic research meant for asthma that states that during development it is vital to be exposed to bacteria and immune system modulators and hence, missing out on this exposure increases the possibility for allergy and asthma.
One other theory states that the excrement from house dust mites cause the allergic reaction of eczema. Although 5% of people show antibodies to the mites, the hypothesis awaits further corroboration.
Typically, the diagnosis of eczema is based mostly on physical examination and history, although, in various cases, a skin biopsy can prove helpful.
Individuals who have eczema should not be given the smallpox vaccination due to the chance of developing eczema vaccinatum. This is a possibly sever and sometimes fatal complication.
Since there is no common treatment for eczema, general treatments include the control of indications by reducing inflammation and relieving the itching. Medications which are accessible consist of corticosteroids, hydrocortisone, injectable or oral corticosteroids. These come with several possible side effects, most normally thinning the skin, though there is ongoing research in this particular field. Typically, these steroids are to be utilized very carefully and a little goes a long way.
Due to potential possibility of skin cancers and lymph node cancers, a public health advisory has been issued by the FDA on the use of immunomodulators. Various professional medical groups don't agree with the FDA findings.
Various severe cases of eczema are treated with immunosuppressant drugs. These are sometimes prescribed and could yield dramatic improvements to the patient's eczema but since they dampen the immune system, they could have major side effects. In order to be on this type of therapy, patients be carefully monitored by a physician and undergo regular blood tests.
The itching factor of eczema can be counteracted using antihistamine and other anti-itch drugs. These work to reduce damage and irritation to the skin by initiating a sedative effect. Some popular sedating antihistamines include Benadryl or Phenergan. Moisturizers are also applied to the skin to help the soothing and healing purpose. Capsaicin applied to the skin acts as a counter irritant and hydrocortisone cream is likewise used, however, many health food stores offer some preparations with tea tree oil and essential fatty acids as an option.
By applying cool water via a bath, swimming or a wet washcloth, lots of patients have found quick relief. Another proven soothing treatment is to apply an icepack wrapped in a soft cloth or even making use of air blowing from an air conditioning vent.
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