Friday, October 11, 2013

What Is Eczema?

What Is Eczema?
Eczema is a skin condition in which the skin of a person becomes dry, itchy, cracked and reddened. This chronic condition affects both males and females and mainly affects children. It is also known as atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis.  About 30 % of the skin diseases diagnosed will be eczema. Atopic eczema means inherited eczema.  It can occur in any part of the body and it is a long term disease. The intensity of the disease increases at some stages in the life and it needs intense treatment. Eczema can be triggered as an allergic response to various substances and situations.

The Causes Of Eczema
Eczema is commonly found in people with a history of atopic diseases such as asthma, hay fever and other allergies. Usually 90 % of the patients develop the condition before reaching 5 years of age.  The rashes begin on face, scalp, hands and feet. In adults the rashes are seen inside the knees and elbows, neck, hands and feet.   Though the exact cause or the eczema attack is not known, it can flare up when exposed to certain triggers like
  • Allergens- this includes pet hair, dander, pollen, mold, foods such as eggs, nuts, dairy products, wheat, shellfish etc.  These allergens also trigger asthma and hay fever.
  • Skin Irritants- perfumes, household chemicals, harsh soaps, alcohol containing skin- products, tight clothing, wool are the main skin irritants.
  • Climatic Conditions- excess heat and low or high humidity triggers eczema.  The dry skin conditions during winter also triggers the flare-up.
  • Water- hot baths and hard water trigger eczema.
  • Cold Or Flu- infections of the body triggers eczema
  • Stress- when the stress increases the dryness of the skin and itching increases.
  • Foods – certain foods cause allergic reactions in sensitive people. The food items which may cause allergy includes cow’s milk, eggs, nuts, soya, wheat etc.
  • Hormones – there are reports that eczema symptoms in women worsen during the menstrual cycle.  About 30 % of the women have flare ups in the days preceding the periods.  About 50% of the women with eczema experiences worse eczema symptoms when they are pregnant. This shows that the hormonal changes affect the symptoms of eczema.
The Symptoms
When the person is having eczema and there is no flare up the symptoms are as follows
  • The skin feels dry
  • Some areas of the skin appear cracked
  •  The skin in particular areas becomes itchy and may appear as raw  if scratching is uncontrollable
  • The itching increases at night
  • Thickened areas of the skin due to scratching
  • Some areas of the skin become red and inflamed
  • Some of the inflamed areas of the skin develop blisters and starts oozing liquid
  • The skin develops red, brown or gray colored patches
  • There will be bumps appearing on the skin
When the patients have a flare up of the eczema, the above symptoms will be there and some new symptoms also appear.  The symptoms that are developed during flare-up includes
  • The skin becomes extremely itchy
  • The itching and scratching  makes the skin appear redder, raw and more sensitive
  • The skin becomes more scaly and drier
  • The affected areas become hotter
  • Skin develop blisters
  • The raised bumps will become more prominent  and may leak fluids
  • Bacterial infection o0f the affected areas occurs
Treatments And Medications For Eczema
The treatment to be provided for eczema depends on the severity of the condition.  For minor conditions home remedies for eczema scars are helpful. There are various topical creams available for treating mild eczema condition.  Severe eczema results in scars which are difficult to remove. It may require strong –cortisone products to treat severe eczema conditions.

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