Eczema is the medical term for a skin disorders which
can cause irritation, inflammation, weeping of skin, dryness and skin
rashes. Also known as dermatitis (inflammation of the skin), eczema
affects numerous people at any time in life and can arise anywhere
on the body. A variety of eczema types exist, they include, Atopic
dermatitis, Contact dermatitis, Nummular eczema, Dyshidrotic eczema
and Seborrheic dermatitis. There are no cures for eczema, though a
number of treatments and approaches can help minimise the symptoms.
The two main forms of eczema are Atopic dermatitis and Contact dermatitis.
The most common type, Atopic eczema is when there is a inherited or
genetic connection to the development of the condition. It causes
an itchy rash that is sometimes dry in appearance, which can appear
anywhere on the skin including inside the folds/bends of joints. Usually
more common in children than in adults, it can cause severe itching
resulting in a spread of the rash. Contact dermatitis comes in two
types. It can be an allergic reaction to an allergen, which comes
into contact with the skin, such as antibiotic creams, perfumes etc.
The second type of Contact dermatitis involves irritants coming into
contact with skin, chemicals like, bleaches, soaps and detergents.
What can cause eczema?
Specific conditions that cause eczema are difficult to identify, though
a weakness in the body’s immune system may be one of them. The
substances and episodes that are seen as causes, are in fact triggers.
Some of the known triggers have already been mentioned and include:
||Genetics – The likelihood of eczema occurring
increases if it is common in an individuals family.
||Allergies - Allergens come in the form of, dust
mites, perfumes, creams, particular foods
||Environment - Cold weather, humidity and heat,
man made materials such as fibreglass.
||Stress - Though stress may not cause eczema, skin
conditions seem to worsen when a person is stressed
Following a programme of self treatment begins by avoiding the substances
and irritants which antagonise your skin. It is also advised to keep
you skin well moisturised. A variety of eczema treatments and products
such as creams, ointments and bath oils are available from the chemist
and help replenish and hydrate the skin and its natural protective
oils. If you are suffering from strong strain of eczema your GP can
prescribe steroid creams/tablets, antibiotics or antihistamine tablets/medicine.
Always avoid scratching the skin, if this may give short-term relief
but irritates the skin further, if you have to just rub the area gently
with the palm of your hand. People who have food allergies can find
that particular foods may set-off eczema, it is advised to contact
your GP or dermatologist before excluding any important foods from
your diet. Eczema sufferers have found alternative treatments like
homeopathy, can significantly help ease and reduce their symptoms.
If your condition is not improving through treatment it may be possible
that the skin disorder is not eczema. Other skin conditions like fungal
infections and scabies can have similar symptoms to eczema.