Eczema – What Is It, What Causes It, and How to Treat It

Eczema, also known as Dermatitis, is a condition of the skin, which can affect people of any age. The severity of the disease can vary – in mild forms the skin is hot, dry and itchy, while in more severe cases the skin can become broken, raw and bleeding. Although Eczema can sometimes look unpleasant, it is fortunately not contagious. With treatment of the affected skin area, the inflammation of eczema can be reduced, though the skin will always be sensitive and will require extra care in order to avoid and control flare-ups.

Eczema comes in various forms, and can have several causes, depending on the particular type of eczema that a person has.  One type of eczema is thought to be hereditary, while other types of eczema are caused by irritants coming in contact with the skin; for example detergents.  Eczema can also be caused by blood circulatory problems in the legs, with older people.

Atopic Eczema:  The most common form of eczema.  It can be found in both children and adults and often runs in the family.  Symptoms of Atopic Eczema include unbearable itchiness, overall dryness of the skin, redness and inflammation.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis:  A form of Eczema which develops when the immune system reacts against a substance in contact with the skin.  Such reactions may occur when the skin is in contact with substances like nickel in earrings, belt buckles, or buttons.  Some people also suffer these symptoms when wearing certain perfumes.  Once a substance irritation is discovered, contact with the offending substance should be avoided.

Irritant Contact Dermatitis:  This is a type of eczema caused by regular contact with everyday substances, such as detergents or chemicals which are irritating to the skin.  Irritant Contact Dermatitis is best avoided by keeping the irritant away from the skin, and keeping any sensitive skin areas well moisturized.

Infantile Seborrhoeic Eczema:  An eczema which commonly affects babies under one year old, also known as Cradle Cap.  It often starts on the scalp or nappy area and can quickly spread, although it is neither sore nor itchy.  Creams and bath oils can assist the healing process.

Adult Seborrhoeic Eczema:  A form of eczema which generally affects adults between the ages of 20 and 40.  Often appearing as mild dandruff, it can spread to the face, ears and chest. The skin affected turns red and inflamed, and then starts to flake.  Infected areas can be treated with anti-fungal cream.

Varicose Eczema:  Caused by poor circulation, Varicose Eczema often affects middle-aged to older people, causing the skin to become speckled, itchy, and inflamed.  The affected areas should be treated with emollients and steroid creams before the skin breaks down, often resulting in ulcers.

Discoid Eczema:  An Eczema generally found in adults.  It can suddenly appear as several coin-shaped patches of red skin, normally on the trunk or lower legs.  These areas become itchy and can weep fluid.  Discoid eczema is usually treated with emollients, and steroid creams if necessary.

SUMMARY:  Pharmacies offer a wide range of products for the treatment of Eczema, yet eczema sufferers should also look for ways of minimizing environmental allergens commonly found in the home.

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