What is eczema?
Characteristics of eczema
Eczema is a non-contagious condition of the skin characterized by pustules, crusts, etc. Under this condition the skin generally appears dry and red, but there are cases where eczema occurs in the presence of liquids.
An eczema generally conveys an itching sensation. This determines that the affected person feels the need to scratch which causes areas devoid of skin. The presence of skin lesions carries a higher risk of infection.
It mainly affects children under 3 years.
Where does generally an eczema appear?
Usually, it erupts at the elbow, behind the knees, hands or feet.
Symptoms of eczema
The main symptoms of eczema are:
- Skin plaques that appear and disappear
- Sskin texture similar to leather
- Greater blackening or whitening of certain areas of the skin.
Causes of eczema
The reasons of many eczemas remain uncertain or sometimes they are probably produced by a combination of different factors.
This is the case of seborrhea (seborrheic dermatitis) which is attributed to a combination of environmental, genetic, hormonal, and immune-system factors.
Some other reasons that can produce or trigger eczema are:
- Allergies: Allergy to certain substances, either by contact or ingestion, can cause skin reactions. This is the reason for one of the most frequent types of eczema, called contact dermatitis. For example, some people react negatively when their skin gets into contact with some plants, such as ivy.
Allergic reasons are also at the base of atopic eczema, also called atopic dermatitis. In this case, this type of anomaly has a genetic reason but it is aggravated when the patient gets into contact with an allergen. It generally occurs together with other diseases, such as asthma, hay fever or conjunctivitis.
- Inadequate diet (too many animal fats, alcoholic beverages, pastries, chocolate, gluten etc.). For example, Duhring’s disease, also called dermatitis herpetiformis, seems to be connected with gluten intolerance, producing itching pustules in several parts of the body such as elbows, knees, buttocks, etc.
- Poor blood circulation: Sometimes skin shows the symptoms of a poor blood flow by means of similar symptoms to eczema. This is the case of congestion eczema, also called varicose eczema, that generally appears in the ankles which become red or darkened. It is related with poor blood circulation in the legs, so it occurs together with varicose veins. Ulcers can appear in the legs very frequently.
- Infections: Some infections produced by different organisms (virus, parasites, bacteria) can bring forth different types of eczematous reactions
- Environmental conditions: Excessive heat, along with the use of certain tight clothes may be the cause of eczema or skin rashes. A too dry atmosphere is also the main reason for the appearance of xerotic eczema, a type of condition characterized by the formation of dry patches in the skin that appears very dry and scaly. It is very common in winter.
On the contrary, warm weather can be a factor triggering dyshidrotic eczema, that can produce many itching pruriginous blisters on hands or feet.
- Rubbing and scratching: Sometimes eczemas are a consequence of some clothes constantly rubbing against the skin. Similarly results can be obtained by the continuous scratching. This aggressions to the skin are responsible for several types of neurodermatitis, such as lichen simplex chronicus (LSC) that produces thicker and more leathery brown patches in the part of the skin subjected to continuous rubbing or scratching.
- Stress: Although not directly responsible, stress may aggravate many types of eczema.
Diagnostic of eczema
Any type of eczema should be diagnosed by your doctor. Eczema treatment requires the participation of the doctor or dermatologist as there are many types of eczema and each one requires different treatment.
Treatment of eczema
In general, the treatment generally involves using some medicines such as:
- Topical immunomodulators
- Antihistaminics or antibiotics.
- Some other emollient products are used to soft your dry skin, such as moisturizing creams.
It is also recommended not to use chemicals to wash the skin, wet your skin as little as possible and avoid sudden temperature changes.
More information about eczema.
28 July, 2020