Eczema or atopic dermatitis refers to a chronic skin condition where there are white patches that get rough, thick and inflamed with blisters that may cause itching and even bleeding. This condition may start in the early phases of infancy and go up to childhood. While some tend to outgrow this condition as they grow, there are people who continue to suffer from this problem even during their adulthood. Eczema can even be a rash-like skin condition. It is connected with many kinds of immune-mediated diseases such as hay fever and asthma.
Types of Eczema:
- Atopic dermatitis: This condition begins very early in life and develops over time.
- Irritant dermatitis: This condition occurs when your skin is exposed to certain toxic substances on a repetitively
- Allergic contact dermatitis: This occurs when you are exposed to an allergen repeatedly. This will activate your immune-recognition system and results in eczema
- Stasis dermatitis: Lack of blood circulation in the veins of your legs may cause this condition where your lower legs would be swollen.
- Fungal infections: Although this is similar to many other kinds of eczema, you can see the fungus when you scrape it under a microscope or grow it in culture
- Scabies: The infestation of a human itch mite causes this condition, where in you have rashes that are very much similar to eczema
- Pompholyx or dyshidrotic eczema: This condition affects your hands and feet where you will find itchy rashes and tiny blisters on your palms, soles or between your toes and fingers
- Lichen simplex chronicus: This is a condition where in your neck and your shins will have thick plaques of skin
- Nummular eczema: This is a condition where you will find coin-shaped plaques of scaly skin on your lower legs
- Xerotic eczema: Here your skin will become pathologically dry and will start cracking and even oozing
- Seborrheic eczema: Here you will find rashes on your ears, face and scalp and sometimes even on your chest. In case of infants, these rashes will produce an oozy or a weepy fluid and may be visible on full body.
Symptoms of Eczema:
You might come across dry scaly patches on the skin of infants. These could be quite itchy too. These are patches of Atopic dermatitis.
The symptoms may however be different for people of different ages, although the condition is the same. Over time these symptoms may either worsen or improve too.
- Rashes on cheeks and scalp
- Rashes that bubble up and even weep fluid
- Rashes that may itch too much, not letting the child sleep. Rubbing or scratching these rashes continuously may even give rise to infections
In Children between the age of 2 and 16:
- Rashes behind creases of knees or elbows
- Rashes on areas such as wrists, neck, ankles, legs and the creases between the buttocks.
Symptoms that may manifest over time:
- Bumpy rashes like goosebumps
- Light colored or even darkened rashes
- Thick rashes that may even develop into knots that may itch permanently.
- Rashes at the nape of the neck, on knees or in the creases of your elbows
- Rashes that cover most of the body
- Prominent rashes around your eyes, on your face and neck
- Rashes that may cause dry skin
- Permanently itchy rashes
- Rashes that may lead to scaly skin
- Rashes that may lead to infections
The severity of your rashes would normally depend on how much you rub or scratch them as these can lead to infections.
Causes of Eczema:
Although the exact cause of eczema is not really known, it could be due to hereditary or environmental factors. A child may develop eczema from one of his/her parents who may either be suffering from eczema or any other atopic disease. The chances would be higher if both the parents are affected. Apart from these causes, there may be environmental factors such as:
- Irritants such asshampoos, detergents, soaps, disinfectants, vegetables, meat or juices from fresh fruits
- Allergens such as dandruff, dust mites, pollens, pets or mold
- Microbes such as viruses, fungi or bacteria
- Perspiration from exercise, humidity, weather, hot or cold temperatures
- Foods such as eggs, soy products, dairy products, wheat, nuts or seeds
- Hormonal imbalances
Diagnosis of Eczema:
One session may not be enough to diagnose Eczema. You may have to visit your doctor a couple of times. Also, the doctor may have to rule out certain things that may be causing irritation to your skin. In order to find this out, the following tests may be conducted:
- Patch testing: In this test certain substances would be placed on the surface of your skin to find out if you have any skin allergies
- Skin prick testing: A thin needle that may contain a little bit of a suspected allergen would be pricked into your skin to find out if you have any allergies
- Supervised food challenges: You may be asked to eliminate certain foods or include certain foods into your diet to find out if you have any food allergies
Treatments and remedies:
While mild eczema can be controlled through good skin care routines and lifestyle changes, severe cases may need medications and other kinds of treatments that include:
- Hydrocortisones: While certain hydrocortisone ointments and creams that may be available over the counter may treat mil eczema, severe cases may require steroid creams that will would be available only on prescription
- Antihistamines:There are oral antihistamines like Benadryl may help in relieving your symptoms of eczema. However, if you are worried about the drowsiness they cause, you can go for one of the non-drowsy antihistamines
- Corticosteroids:In case none of the treatments work when it comes to relieving the symptoms of your eczema you may try oral corticosteroids that may have to be prescribed by your doctor. It is very important to follow the instructions of your doctor while taking these oral steroids.
- Ultraviolet light therapy: Ultraviolet light therapy may help in cases of severe eczema
- Immuno-suppressants: These are drugs that work by suppressing your immune system. Some of these include cyclosporine, methotrexate and azathioprine
- Immunomodulators:These are medicated creams such as Protopic and Elidel that help in reducing the reactions of your immune system and in controlling your inflammation. Thus it can help in treating your eczema
- Prescription-strength moisturizers:Moisturizers such as Epiceram, Mimyx and Hylatopic plus can be used to replace the barriers of your skin and relieve your symptoms
Our Experienced Team:
Dr. Rashmi is a qualified dermatologist with vast experience of treating different kinds of patients with skin disorders, hair fall problems and body fat issues in Bangalore. Her clinic is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment that uses sophisticated technology to cater to the requirements of all kinds of clients in the most effective way. She has a specialized team that assists her in achieving each of her objectives. Here are a few details about Eczema and the various kinds of treatments that are available for Eczema that can help you understand your problem and come up with the right decision.