Eczema – Basic Causes, Symptoms & Treatments. Eczema is the generic term used to name a group of medical conditions that show the skin being inflamed or irritated. The most common of this group is atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema.
Atopic is used to refer to a group of diseases that comes with a tendency to develop other allergic conditions, such as asthma and hay fever. This condition is often inherited.
Prevalence. Based on the latest findings, atopic eczema is increasing and presently afflicts around 9 to 30% of the population in the U.S. The disease is common in young children and infants.
Most infants, thankfully, outgrow the illness around their second birthday. However, there are some people who carry the symptoms of eczema all throughout their lives, although they usually are on a recurring basis. Usually, these symptoms can also be controlled.
Symptoms. Both itchiness and rashes occur on the skin. Sometimes, the itch starts before the rashes appear. The rashes are usually on the face, hands, knees, or feet. On severe cases, the rashes (and itch) affect many other areas.
The affected skin usually becomes extremely dry, thickened and scaly. With fair-skinned victims, these areas start with being reddish and turning into brown later. On darker-skinned people, the areas will either become lighter or darker.
The rashes on infants sometimes produce oozing and crusting conditions on the afflicted areas. Usually, they occur on the face and scalp, but they can appear anywhere.
In infants, the itchy rash can produce an oozing, crusting condition that occurs mainly on the face and scalp, but patches may appear anywhere.
Causes. There is no known cause discovered yet on eczema. Scientists, however, have found links in the disease and the overactive response of the body’s immune system to unknown triggers. Eczema is found to be common in families with histories on allergy and asthma.
Contact with coarse materials can make the skin itchy. Too hot or too cold exposures can also trigger itch as well as exposures to certain soaps or detergents.
Animal fur and stress sometimes can trigger these “flare-ups” (sudden skin rashes). Luckily, the condition is not contagious and cannot be spread from one person to another.
Diagnosis. They can be diagnosed by any doctor, but mostly by pediatricians, allergists, and dermatologists. Since eczema victims also suffer from allergies, doctors usually perform allergy tests to pinpoint possible trigger-irritants.
Children with eczema are usually tested for allergies.
Treatments. Before prescribing treatments, doctors usually determine the type of eczema, the severity, the patient’s medical history and other relative factors.
The medication (and other therapies) is usually for itch control, inflammation reduction, loosening and removal of scaly lesions, and to clear the infection.
Effectiveness. Research shows that the most effective treatment for eczema, regardless of the type, is a combination of therapies to treat the skin and making drastic lifestyle changes of the victim.
This combined effort increases the effectiveness of the medication. The medication is unique to the patient because it includes the type of eczema, past treatments, and the patient’s preferences.
Thankfully, there are many effective therapies available today to treat the many types of eczema. With care, most eczema can be managed.