Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, where atopic means a ‘genetic vulnerability to allergic diseases and dermatitis is group of skin conditions ’.Eczema is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that manifests as dry, itchy, and cracked skin. It is the most prevalent chronic skin ailment in children, affecting up to 20% of infants and children in the United States. In total Over 31 million Americans have eczema which amounts to about 10 percent of the population. The times when symptoms are at their worst are referred to as “flare-ups.”  These can last for days or even weeks. Sometimes flare-ups continue for a few days or even weeks. Although less common, eczema can also afflict adults.

eczema written on a pic with a file and capsules

Types of eczema:

Atopic Dermatits

Contact Dermatits

Dyshidrotic Dermatits

Neuro Dermatits

Nummular Dermatits

Stasis Dermatits

Seborrheic Dermatits

1 Atopic dermatitis :

This is the typical meaning of the term “eczema.” Over 7% of adult Americans are afflicted by the most prevalent kind. It can be brought on by other allergy conditions including hay fever and asthma. It frequently begins in childhood.

2.Contact Dermititis :

This is something that almost everyone encounters in their lifetime. It occurs when something that makes rashes comes into contact with your skin. An allergic reaction or irritation may result from the trigger. Each person has specific triggers, which differ depending on the type of contact dermatitis they have:

A. Irritant Dermatitis : This more prevalent type is more strongly associated with individuals who have atopic dermatitis. Skin care products, soaps and detergents, nickel-containing jewellery, and industrial chemicals like cement and solvents can all be triggers.

B. Allergic Dermatitis : When an allergen comes into touch with your skin, allergic dermatitis flares up. Poison ivy, nickel and other metals, perfumes and fragrance-containing cosmetics, rubber, latex, and the preservative thimerosal are among the common allergies.

3. Dyshidrotic Dermatitis :

This type of eczema is more difficult to treat but is less prevalent. On the sides of the fingers, the soles of the feet, and the palms of the hands, it results in little blister outbreaks. It might be brought on by metals or sweat.

4.Neurodermatitis :

One or two extremely itchy spots, usually on the back of the neck, an arm, or a leg, are typical symptoms of this kind of eczema. Having extremely dry skin or another type of eczema, such as atopic or contact dermatitis, are risk factors. It can also be brought on by certain mental health conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety disorder. Compared to other persons, women between the ages of 30 and 50 are more likely to have it.

5.Nummular Dermatitis :

This coin-shaped eczema frequently develops following a burn or insect bite to the skin. If you or any members of your family have asthma, allergies, or atopic dermatitis, you are more likely to develop nummular eczema.

6 Seborrheic Dermatitis :

This occurs in body parts that have a high concentration of oil glands. It’s referred to as dandruff when it’s on your scalp. It is associated with a number of different diseases and several other skin problems, including rosacea, acne, and psoriasis.

7.Stasis Dermatitis :

People with inadequate blood flow, mainly in the lower legs, are more likely to experience this type. These plaques don’t indicate that you have faulty genes, in contrast to certain other types of eczema. Certain lifestyle choices can increase the risk, such as being overweight or not exercising enough.

Factors  Increasing The Risk for Eczema

Stress and genetics are two of the most prevalent risk factors for eczema. However, there are others, such as:

Having very dry skin

Using hair care or skin care products containing allergens.

Allergies to foods.

Living in chilly, damp climates or swampy, hot climates.

Who is more prone to eczema?

If someone in your family has eczema, you are more likely to have it. Although it is not totally hereditary, genes do enhance the possibilities.

Eczema is most common before the age of five, and most children outgrow it.

If you develop eczema as an adult, you are more likely to have it in your twenties or beyond the age of 50.

Atopic dermatitis is more frequent in children, but nummular eczema is more common in adults.

This skin ailment is most frequent in youngsters, although it can also affect adults. According to the National Eczema Association, 10% of the population will have the ailment at some point in their lives.

Eczema may affect anyone at any age. Some races and ethnicities may be more vulnerable than the others:
white individuals 11%
African-Americans 10%
Asian and Pacific Islanders 13 %
Native Americans 13%

Causes of Eczema

Immune System :

Your immune system overreacts to little allergens or irritants (triggers) in your surroundings if you have eczema. Your immune system interprets triggers as foreign invaders, such as germs or viruses, that might cause harm to your body when you come into contact with them. The triggers therefore cause your body’s defence mechanisms to become active. Inflammation is your immune system’s way of protecting you. Your skin develops eczema symptoms due to inflammation.

Genetics :

If your family has a history of dermatitis or eczema, you are more likely to have it yourself. Additionally, if you have a history of allergies, hay fever, or asthma, you are more vulnerable. Common allergens include pollen, pet hair, and foods that provoke an allergic reaction. Another possibility is that you have a genetic mutation that interferes with the normal operation of your skin’s barrier function.

Environment :

Many things in your surroundings have the potential to irritate your skin. Exposure to tobacco, air pollution, harsh soaps, woollen garments, and some skin care products are a few examples. Your skin may become dry and irritated due to low humidity or dry air. Sweating brought on by heat and high humidity can exacerbate your itching.

Emotional :

The state of your skin may be impacted by your mental well-being, potentially leading to a worsening of your eczema symptoms. Eczema flare-ups may occur more frequently in those with high levels of stress, anxiety, or depression.

What triggers Eczema

Some people have itching rash flare-ups in response to factors like:

Fabric or clothing that is rough or harsh

Too hot or too cold?

Soap and detergent are examples of household items.

Animal hair or fur dander

Colds or infections

Sweat from Stress

Symptoms of eczema

Dry, itchy skin: The primary sign of eczema, this condition can be extremely upsetting. When the skin is exposed to irritants like sweat, dust, or wool, the itching may be more intense at night or during those times.

Red, irritated skin: The skin that is impacted may seem bloated, red, and inflamed. Moreover, it could be thickened, scaly, or cracked.

Bump or blisters: Eczema can occasionally result in the formation of tiny bumps or blisters on the skin. These could crust over or ooze.

Thickened skin: The impacted skin may get leathery and thicker over time.

Apart from above mentioned common symptoms of dryness, cracking, redness, and itching. Based on age, certain generalizations can be made, such as : Babies who have an itching rash may develop an oozing, crusting condition that mostly affects the scalp and face. It could also happen on their arms, legs, back, or chest. Newborns may show symptoms within a few weeks or months following birth. Rash most frequently affects youngsters in the elbow bends, behind the knees, on the neck, or on the wrists or ankles of young people. The rash turns scaly and dry. When it comes to grownups Usually affected areas include the face, hands, feet, wrists, and backs of the knees.

Most likely, you’ll have extremely dry, thick, or scaly skin. These spots in fair-skinned individuals may begin crimson and subsequently turn brown. Eczema can alter skin pigmentation in those with darker complexion, lightening or darkening the afflicted area.

How is Eczema Diagnosed ?

Eczema diagnosis isn’t always straightforward, often requiring a dermatologist’s expertise. Typically, it starts with a detailed discussion of your medical history and symptoms, focusing on itch, rash location, and potential triggers. Your skin will undergo a thorough examination, looking for dryness, redness, scaling, and thickening.

Sometimes, additional tests like allergy skin prick tests or patch tests might be needed to pinpoint allergens. In rare cases, a tiny skin sample (biopsy) may be taken for lab analysis to rule out other conditions. While there’s no single “eczema test,” piecing together these clues allows your dermatologist to confidently diagnose and tailor a treatment plan for your unique case.

On Positive Diagnoses Ask Your Doctor the following questions:

Can I still workout if sweating makes things worse?

What happens if my symptoms don’t improve or if I acquire an infection from scratching?

Is it true that stress causes flare-ups?

Is it usual to go for lengthy periods of time without experiencing symptoms?

What is the best approach to moisturise my skin? Can I take over-the-counter medications, or do I require a prescription?

Is it necessary to purchase specialised soaps, lotions, and laundry detergent? Are fragrance-free or sensitive-skin products beneficial?

Is there anything I should avoid to keep flares at bay?

Is there anything I shouldn’t wear? What materials should I wear?

Do pets aggravate symptoms?

Is there anything I can do to treat my skin to lessen the possibilities of another flare-up?

Common Myths About Eczema

Despite the common prevalence of Eczema, there are numerous myths and misconceptions about eczema, which causes confusion and undue concern for individuals who suffer from it. One of the most widespread misconceptions is that eczema is infectious. This is just not true; eczema is not caused by a virus or bacterium, and it cannot be passed from person to person.

Another common misconception is that eczema may be treated. While there is no cure for eczema, there are treatments that can help control symptoms and avoid flare-ups. Furthermore, some individuals assume that eczema is caused by improper cleanliness, which is not true. Eczema is a hereditary disorder, and while some environmental variables might produce flare-ups, it is not caused by poor hygiene.

Home Remedies

Oatmeal Bath :

In a lukewarm bath, dissolve this finely crushed oats. It includes starches that assist to keep your skin moisturised by sealing in moisture and blocking irritants. 

Wet Wrapping :

When your eczema flares up, soak some gauze, bandages, or soft fabric in cool water and apply it to your skin. The cooling will ease irritation, and the wetness will enhance the effectiveness of creams or lotions. Cover the region carefully with a dry garment (such as pyjamas) and leave for several hours or overnight.

Consult your doctor to determine how frequently you can use wet wrap treatment. If you do it too often, it might lead to a skin infection.

Coal Tar Treatment :  

This substance has been used to treat eczema and other skin issues for over 2,000 years. Although it is untidy and many people dislike the pungent odour, it may help to calm your skin.

Get Rid Of Stress :

There is a close connection between skin and stress. Prolonged stress makes you age faster. Similarly, stress can aggravate the symptoms of Eczema and cause flare ups more frequently.

Moisturisers :

Your doctor will suggest lotions and creams to keep your skin moist since it is dry and irritated. Creams and ointments reduce inflammation and restore moisture to the skin, allowing it to recover. Put them on many times every day, including after a bath or shower. Because petroleum jelly and mineral oil build a thick barrier over your skin, they perform well.

Glycerin, lactic acid, and urea-containing products may also be beneficial since they help draw water into your skin. When your skin is damp, such as after bathing, you’ll use them to assist retain moisture.

Antihistamines and hydrocortisone creams :

Over-the-counter medications such as hydrocortisone cream and antihistamines can also be beneficial. Hydrocortisone is a steroid that helps to reduce inflammation, itching, and swelling. Low-strength creams and lotions are available at the shop. If they do not work, your doctor may prescribe something more potent.

As long as you are not pregnant or nursing, it is safe to apply hydrocortisone to most body parts up to four times each day for up to seven days. It should be kept away from your eyes and private regions.

Hydrocortisone can cause severe reactions in certain persons. Call for help if you have difficulty breathing or swallowing, or if you develop a skin rash after using it.

Over-the-counter allergy medications may not be effective in treating itchy skin caused by eczema. However, antihistamines that promote sleepiness might help you sleep if taken before bed.

Alternative therapies

Self-hypnosis, meditation, and biofeedback treatment have all been demonstrated to help alleviate the symptoms of eczema. You could also consider seeing a therapist. They can assist you in changing bad behaviours or negative mental patterns that may be contributing to your skin problems.

Complications Arising Out Of Eczema

Eczema can cause skin infections as a result of itching or cracking. This can weaken your skin’s barrier to bacteria and other pathogens. Eczema complications can involve any or all of the following:

Asthma or allergies. Both of these things can happen before or after a diagnosis.

Food sensitivities. These can result in hives.

Areas of skin that are darker or lighter. This is more frequent in those who have darker complexion.

Infections of the skin. Skin infections can be fatal, so keep an eye out for them and notify your doctor straight soon.

Sleep issues. Because of the irritation, eczema can induce these.

Foods To Avoid

While specific triggers differ among individuals, certain foods are notorious for causing eczema flare-ups. Dairy tops the list, with cow’s milk protein a common culprit. Its inflammatory properties can worsen itching and redness.

Eggs also deserve a raised eyebrow, especially for those with allergies. Their proteins can trigger eczema symptoms in both children and adults.

Soybeans lurk in many processed foods, and their high isoflavone content can mimic estrogen, potentially aggravating eczema. Even seemingly healthy citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits can be problematic. Their acidity can irritate sensitive skin, especially when applied directly.

Gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, can worsen eczema in individuals with gluten sensitivity. Though not a true allergy, gluten can trigger inflammatory responses that manifest as skin problems.

Spicy foods might tantalize your taste buds, but they can wreak havoc on eczema. Compounds like capsaicin, found in chili peppers, trigger the release of histamine, a chemical that dilates blood vessels and worsens inflammation.

Remember, this isn’t an exhaustive list. Food sensitivities are highly personal, and what triggers one person’s eczema might be perfectly fine for another. Keeping a food diary to track your intake and flare-ups can be a detective’s game, but ultimately empowering in identifying your unique triggers and navigating an eczema-friendly diet.

Is eczema curable?

At the time, there is no treatment for eczema that can completely eliminate it. You may control and manage the symptoms with the correct therapies, such as medications, ointments, over-the-counter medicines, and home remedies.

How To Prevent Eczema Flare-Ups ?

Eczema flare-ups can be frustrating and uncomfortable, but proactive measures can help keep them at bay. Here are some key strategies:

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize : Dry, irritated skin is an eczema magnet, so slathering on fragrance-free, gentle moisturizers regularly is crucial. Aim for at least twice a day, and even more often after showering or bathing.

Identify and avoid triggers : This detective work takes time, but it’s worth it. Common culprits include harsh soaps, wool clothing, dust mites, pet dander, and certain foods like dairy, eggs, and soy. Keep a journal to track potential triggers and watch for patterns in your flare-ups.

Manage stress : It might seem counterintuitive, but stress can wreak havoc on your skin. Practice relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing to keep your inner calm reflected on your outer glow.

Take lukewarm baths or showers: Hot water can strip your skin of its natural oils, so opt for lukewarm baths or showers and limit your time to 10-15 minutes. Pat dry gently instead of rubbing, and don’t forget to moisturize immediately after.

Dress comfortably and avoid irritants: Ditch scratchy fabrics like wool and opt for loose-fitting, breathable cotton or bamboo clothing. Wash new clothes before wearing them to remove any lingering irritants.

Be gentle with your skin : Avoid harsh scrubbing, rubbing, or scratching, as this can further irritate your skin and worsen flare-ups. Instead of rubbing, use mild cleansers and pat your skin dry.

Humidify your home : Dry air can exacerbate eczema symptoms, so consider investing in a humidifier, especially during winter months. This will moisten the air and keep your skin moisturised.

Protect your skin from the sun : While some sunlight can be beneficial, too much can exacerbate eczema. Seek shade during peak sun hours, wear protective clothing, and apply a broad-spectrum, fragrance-free sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.

Remember, consistency is key: By making these simple changes part of your daily routine, you can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of eczema flare-ups and enjoy calmer, healthier skin.

Eczema ‘s Impact On Emotional And Mental Health

Eczema isn’t just a physical burden; it can wreak havoc on your mental and emotional well-being. The constant itch, visible patches, and fear of flare-ups can lead to feelings of shame, embarrassment, and social isolation. Sleepless nights due to relentless scratching leave you drained and irritable, impacting your concentration and productivity. The frustration of managing flare-ups and navigating a world that might not understand your condition can fuel anxiety and depression. Eczema can even trigger body dysmorphia, making you hyper-focus on your perceived flaws, further eroding your self-esteem. It’s a vicious cycle, where the emotional toll worsens the physical symptoms, and vice versa. Yet, amidst the challenges, there’s hope. Finding a supportive community, practicing self-compassion, and focusing on managing both skin and mental health can empower you to reclaim control and thrive despite eczema.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Eczema, a chronic skin condition marked by dry, itchy patches, can be confusing and frustrating. But fear not, fellow eczema warriors! Here’s a list of frequently asked questions to shed some light and soothe your anxieties:

1. What causes eczema?

The exact cause remains a mystery, but it’s likely a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental triggers. An overactive immune system and malfunctioning skin barrier play key roles. Think of it like a sensitive alarm system that overreacts to everyday irritants.

2. Is eczema contagious?

Nope! You can’t catch eczema from someone else. It’s not an infection or virus, but rather a condition your skin is naturally prone to. So, hug your loved ones guilt-free!

3. What are common triggers?

The list varies for everyone, but common culprits include:

Irritants: Harsh soaps, scratchy fabrics like wool, dust mites, pet dander, and even dry air.

Allergens: Food allergens like dairy, eggs, and soy, or airborne allergens like pollen and mold.

Stress: When you’re stressed, your body releases hormones that can worsen eczema symptoms.

Sweat: While exercise is good, excessive sweating can irritate your skin.

Weather: Hot and humid or cold and dry weather can both trigger flare-ups.

4. What does an eczema flare-up look like?

It depends on your skin tone and eczema type, but generally, you’ll see:

Red, dry, and itchy patches.

Scaly or crusty skin.

Small, fluid-filled bumps that may ooze or crust over.

Thickened, leathery skin in chronic cases.

5. How do I treat eczema?

There’s no cure, but good news! You can manage it. Here are some key strategies:

Moisturize regularly: This is your best friend! Use fragrance-free, gentle moisturizers to keep your skin hydrated and prevent dryness, which can worsen itching.

Identify and avoid triggers: This takes detective work, but it’s worth it. Keep a journal to track potential triggers and watch for patterns in your flare-ups.

Medications: Topical corticosteroids are the mainstay of treatment, reducing inflammation and itching. In severe cases, oral medications or phototherapy might be needed.

Lifestyle changes: Manage stress, get enough sleep, and wear loose-fitting, breathable clothing.

6. Can eczema be cured?

While there’s no permanent fix, you can definitely manage it and achieve long periods of remission. Consistency is key! Stick to your treatment plan, identify your triggers, and listen to your skin. Remember, you’re not alone in this!

7. Are there any natural remedies?

Some people find relief with oatmeal baths, coconut oil, or aloe vera. However, remember, everyone’s skin is different. . Patch test anything new on a small area of skin first. The same thing might not work for each one of you.

8. Can I still wear makeup?

Absolutely! Opt for fragrance-free, hypoallergenic makeup and remove it gently at the end of the day.

9. Can I exercise with eczema?

Yes! Exercise is great for stress relief and overall health. Just listen to your body, avoid sweating excessively, and shower and moisturize immediately after.

10. Will my child outgrow eczema?

Many children do outgrow it, but not all. Eczema can persist into adulthood, though it often becomes less severe.

Remember, knowledge is power! By understanding your eczema and its triggers, you can take control and live a happy, fulfilling life, even with itchy patches.

Reference : http://www.webmd.com