Eczema is a common but manageable disease. It is a group of conditions that cause the skin to become inflamed, very dry and itching. Eczema or dermatitis is usually caused by an irritant or allergen that triggers the body’s immune system’s response and cause skin cells to misbehave. This trigger results in what is referred to as a “flare up.”
Symptoms may include dry, sensitive skin, itching, rough, leathery skin, dark patches, redness, oozing, and crusting of the skin.
- Know the potential triggers.
- Avoid triggers.
- Use prescription medications as directed and over the counter non-fragranced moisturizers.
- Implement a bathing and moisturizing routine, as directed.
Eczema is a general term that describes a rash or dermatitis of inflamed, itching, dry skin.
Its causes are multiple, and treatment involves identifying the source or “trigger,” and then treating it appropriately. Some forms of eczema are chronic and require preventative measures and ongoing treatment for “flare up’s.” The most typical categories of eczema include:
This type of inflammation is genetic and inherited. Atopic dermatitis is associated with other condition such as asthma and hay fever. Different family members may suffer from rashes, hay fever, or asthma. These conditions are inherited on the same chromosome. Atopic eczema is chronic, but manageable with ongoing care and guidance. These patients have dry, sensitive skin and do not tolerate harsh soaps or strong fragrances.
Allergic contact is an eczematous rash caused by exposure or contact with a substance that is an allergen. Common allergens include nickel, rubber, plants (poison ivy), neomycin ointment, formaldehyde and many more. Identifying the allergen and eliminating it is the key to treatment.
Physical contact with an irritating substance, such as chemical cleaners, harsh soaps, over-washing the skin and shaving are a few examples of irritant contact dermatitis
Venous Stasis Eczema
Venous stasis (swelling of lower legs and feet) causes a chronic, progressive form of eczema on the lower legs, ankles or feet. The chronic swelling of the tissue is due to age-related changes in the venous and lymphatic circulation.
In this area, the venous blood must return to the heart against gravity and the valves that prevent backflow become less efficient with aging, surgical procedures done on the legs or knees, pregnancies, leading to chronic swelling in the lower limbs. The chronic swelling then results in dermatitis that becomes red, inflamed, oozing, very itching and can result in sloughing of the skin. Periodic or, multiple flare-ups can result in hyperpigmentation and discoloration of the lower extremities skin. In some cases, if not adequately treated a venous ulcer, may develop.
Dyshidrotic Eczema/Hand or Foot Eczema
Hand or foot eczema starts with little vesicles, often with intense itching a then progresses into redness, and peeling of the affected skin. If not adequately treated, secondary infections and painful fissures can result. This type of eczema is believed to be genetic and is associated with excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) of the hands and feet.
Dyshidrotic eczema frequently worsens with stress. Periods of remission and recurrent flares up are typical.
These are just a few of the most common types of eczema we treat. There are many others, and diagnosis sometimes requires a biopsy.