Eczema is term used for a group of medical conditions that cause skin inflammation. The word eczema is derived from a Greek word which means to effervescence or boils over. The most common type of eczema is known as atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema. Eczema generally affects 10-20% of infants and about 3 % of adults in few countries. Atopic dermatitis is an itchy red rash which appears all over the body. The spot of rash appearance differs from person to person. The appearance of rash is different on different parts of the body from time to time. Children generally experience rash on the face in early stages of birth. Symptoms are mild as the patient grows older. In few cases eczema continues to adulthood. In few cases, itch can become more severe resulting in bleeding. Bleeding can cause more complications leading to infections.
People living in dry climates are more prone to eczema. Eczema occurs equally in both males and females. 9-30% of population suffers with eczema. Eczema is common in children when compared to adults. Very few cases of eczema are reported in adulthood.
Types of Eczema
There are many different types of eczema based on the affected parts.
- Allergic contact eczema- Allergic contact eczema is also called as dermatitis. Patients suffering with dermatitis experience rash when they come in contact with any substance which immune system recognizes as foreign particle.
- Contact eczema – Contact eczema is caused when the person directly comes in contact with allergen
- Dyshidriotic eczema – patients with dyshidriotic eczema experience irritation of skin on palms of hands and soles of feet.
- Neurodermatitis – Patients with neurodermatitis experience scaly patches of skin on head, forearms, wrists and lower legs. Itch caused by dermatitis is similar to the itch caused due to insect bite.
- Seborrheic eczema – Seborrheiceczema patients have oily, scaly yellowish patches on skin and these patches are generally seen on scalp and face.
- Statis dermatitis – Skin irritation on lower legs is seen in patients suffering with statis dermatitis.
Eczema is caused due to certain environmental factors, food substances and varied temperatures. The most common causes of eczema are:
- Irritants – Irritants differs from person to person. Irritants can be soaps, detergents, shampoos and disinfectants.
- Allergens – Allergens are those particles which are identified by the person’s immune system as foreign. The common allergen include dust mite, animal dander and pollen
- Hot and cold weather – Extreme weathers can also lead to eczema in people whose immune system is very weak.
- Microbes – There are certain bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus which are known to cause eczema in many patients. There are many viruses and fungi which can also cause eczema.
- Foods – Generally food substances are known to cause eczema. The common food products include eggs, nuts and soy products.
- Stress – Stress is the most common cause of eczema in people.
- Hormones – Hormonal imbalance causes eczema in many female patients.
The goal of eczema treatment is to relieve itching in patients. Itching can lead to severe infection and increases the complications. Doctors usually prescribe certain drugs to prevent itching sensation. It is advised that the person should avoid coming in contact with the allergens to prevent eczema.