Eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition that causes very dry and itchy, red patches of skin. Eczema bears a striking resemblance to psoriasis, as both conditions are similar in how they present. A dermatologist can determine if you have psoriasis or eczema.
Eczema can strike anywhere on the body, from your scalp to your feet, and most people outgrow this condition when they are young. However, it can progress into adulthood and is common in families that have a history of eczema. Most people with eczema consider it to be quite debilitating from the constant itching, scratching and cracked skin conditions they are forced to endure.
Symptoms of Eczema
Eczema symptoms are most commonly moderate to severely dry skin. The skin will also be very itchy and may crack or bleed. If a person with eczema scratches the inflamed areas, they may also become infected and even pruritic.
Areas of the skin will be inflamed, red and even at times painful, dependent on the areas where the eczema is located and if they skin has become cracked or not. The affected areas can occur anywhere on the body, but particularly are present mostly on feet and hands and in crease areas such as behind the knees or in front of elbows.
Causes of Eczema
Eczema has different causes or “triggers”, but is common in families with a history of eczema as well as other allergies. Some of these triggers can be obvious, such as having naturally dry skin or being in climates that are cold or dry. Amazingly, stress is a huge trigger for eczema flare-ups, as is being overheated and sweating.
Other causes can be irritation from tangible substances like laundry detergent, or soap and certain fabrics like wool.
Eczema tends to run in families with a history of eczema, asthma or allergies, such as hay fever. Eczema is not contagious, but can appear to be so, especially in instances where there is bleeding or oozing. If a child presents with eczema, their chances of growing up with asthma and other allergies is greatly increased.
Additionally, there is no known cure for eczema. However, there are a number of methods used by doctors and dermatologists to help alleviate the symptoms and make the condition more bearable. Hydro-cortisone, steroids and antibiotics are just a few of the treatment methods employed by medical professionals to treat eczema symptoms.