An eczema is not a single disease entity, but it represents a group of skin conditions that manifest skin inflammation and irritation. It is a very common skin disorder that affects over 30 million Americans and highly prevalent in the younger population, with one every three affected children having a severe dermatitis. Those affected during their childhood will likely experience the same skin condition even as they reach adulthood. The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis, which is linked to heredity and tend to develop in the presence of allergies, such as asthma and hay fever.
Cause of Eczema
There is a high indication that the skin disorder is caused by an abnormal autoimmune response of the body, although the main cause has yet to be discovered. There is a high correlation between eczema and allergies, too. Other theories on the cause of eczema is the absence of or poor skin barriers that protect the skin against germs and bacteria. The environment and genetics also play a role of putting you at risk of developing eczema. Sweating, exposure to too much hot or cold environment, dry climate and prolonged exposure to water can also known triggers for eczema.
Signs and symptoms of eczema
The classic symptom of eczema is itchiness. It usually precedes the formation of the rash, which commonly appears on specific areas of the body, like the elbow, neck, face, hand, back of the knees, feet and wrist. Babies usually develop the itchy rash on the face, especially on the cheek and chin areas. The rash may also appear on the trunk and scalp. Eczema tends to appear on the wrist, neck, ankles, elbows and knees in children. Those who developed eczema during their childhood tends to have less severe eczema when they reach adulthood.
In some cases, eczema may appear on any parts of the body. The affected area will appear scaly, dry, thickened and with reddish rashes. Later on, the skin will turn brown. Eczema can also affect the pigmentation among darker skinned individuals, causing the skin to appear lighter or darker. Eczema can also have flare-ups when the affected becomes irritated or exposed to certain substances. When the skin comes in contact with a course material, for instance, it will cause more itching and redness. Soap and detergents can also induce an outbreak.
Self help remedies for eczema
There is no specific treatment for eczema, but there are methods that can help reduce its flare ups. The symptoms are manageable, even with conservative treatment.
- Avoid common irritants that can cause the symptoms to flare up or worsen. You can avoid skin exposure to harsh chemicals contained in bath soaps and detergents. Use mild soaps or hypo-allergenic soaps instead. Avoid animal dander if you notice that your skin responds differently upon exposure. Stressful conditions can also increase the outbreak with flare ups tending to occur worse. Wools and man made fibers are known to be triggers of eczema and it is best to avoid their use. Other irritants of eczema include cigarette smoke, dust, make up, perfume, chlorine and solvents.
- Eczema is very common in dry and sensitive skin. Make sure to moisturize and hydrate the skin in order to prevent dryness.
- Use prescription corticosteroid creams or ointments to manage the inflammation. There are also over-the-counter hydrocortisone products that you can use. However, when the affected skin develops an infection, an antibiotic may also be needed. Talk to your doctor about the ideal prescription medicine that will be best for your skin condition.
- A bacteria infection or a flu can also worsen the symptoms of eczema. Make sure to get treatment immediately for these conditions in order to prevent worse flare ups.
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