Causes and Treatment: An Overview
Eczema is an umbrella term used to denote a group of skin diseases that are characterized by inflammation. The most common among them is known as Atopic dermatitis. Atopic implies an allergy that has been passed on from generation to generation and dermatitis suggests inflammation of the skin.
If you are someone suffering from eczema, you are sure to feel frustrated until such a time that an almost permanent solution is sought out. The constant itching would deprive you of your sleep. You would even be forced to absent yourself from social gatherings. Affecting even your professional life is sure.
If it affects children, they would be forced to stay away from school and even friends. If you are a parent, you are sure to have a tough time helping your child cope up with the situation. And, studies show that more than 14 million Americans are the victims of this disease and the majority of them are children.
Eczema is not a life-threatening disease, but it can take on a severe form if the signs and symptoms of eczema are not noticed early on, and the right medical treatment is not followed after a person is diagnosed with a particular type of eczema. Therefore, it is crucial to be aware of the different signs and symptoms that accompany various forms of eczema. Being aware of the symptoms of eczema will help you go for the right treatment at the right time.
Eczema symptoms may vary
Signs and symptoms of eczema can vary depending upon the severity, age, and the form of the eczema one is suffering from. If an infant between 2 to 6 months of age has been affected with eczema, then their skin may turn red and may become completely patchy, scaly, and dry. Children getting affected with eczema before they turn five years old may also get red rashes and small bumps on cheeks, forehead, and even scalp. Rashes may not only appear in the affected region but also spread to the arms and legs. Open lesions and red crusted skin may appear on the affected part of the body.
A young child getting affected with eczema is shown to often suffer from severe skin inflammatory conditions if they have a family member suffering from hay fever, some allergy, or even asthma. Allergies often trigger eczema and therefore watch out for the eczema symptoms if you have been exposed to some environmental irritants or allergens.
Symptoms of eczema in infants show within the first few months of their birth and much before they turn five years of age. In some infants, the symptoms of eczema may completely disappear before the kids become teenagers. You may also find small, circular, raised, and scaly rashes on the skin of small children suffering from eczema. Scales on the affected skin portion may look very prominent, and sometimes there are several red patches with small bumps appearing on the affected part. Itchy and irritating rashes may also appear on the elbow, knees, wrists, and ankles, as well as the forehead.
As kids age, red and irritating rashes may also become less oozy and scalier as compared to the time when the first signs of eczema were noticed. With the growing age, the skin of eczema kids may become extremely dry and itchy. Eczema patients may witness flare-ups periodically and symptoms may appear severe or may also improve over a span of time. Skin eruptions generally tempt eczema sufferer to scratch their affected portion. Chronic scratching may thicken the affected skin and make the rashes look worse. Brownish areas may start appearing due to extreme scratching.
Eczema generally affects persons with a history of some allergy like asthma. And, it is has been determined that most of the sufferers develop this disease before the age of 5. It appears in the form of rashes on the face, scalp, feet, and children’s hands. Most young children and infants getting affected with eczema often get red rashes and small fluid-filled bumps. These bumps often become watery and ooze liquid. Most people suffering from eczema also suffer from extreme skin irritation. It is the most common symptom of eczema. Moreover, the skin becomes dry, scaly, and patchy, thereby making the affected area or the face lackluster. Small painful blisters may appear on the skin.
Following are the Eczema symptoms which differentiates this disease from others of the kind.
- Redness in the affected area
- Patches which would create trouble with persistent itching.
- Lesions which gets thick when scratched
- Blisters which would be filled with fluid
The cause of this disease remains unknown to medical science even at present. However, doctors are sure of one thing, atopic dermatitis; the most common among these diseases is not a skin allergy. The patches may resemble in appearance to that of an allergy.
The following are considered to be the possible risk factors of this disease.
- Substances causing allergy-like pet hair, dander, foods like dairy products, etc
- Wool, tight clothing, soaps or perfumes containing harsh chemicals and other products used on the skin containing alcohol
- Changes in climatic conditions like extreme heat or humidity
Other variants of eczema
The following are the other types of eczema besides atopic dermatitis.
Allergic contact eczema:
You may develop this disease if your skin is sensitive and comes into contact with general allergens. The risk factors may include perfumes Nickel and hair dye.
Irritant contact eczema:
This disease affects those persons whose skin constantly comes into contact with those substances which are harmful to it. The irritants can be anything, ranging from detergents to products used for cleaning a floor.
This is a disease which is considered to be the result of some defect in a person’s immune system. It starts reacting to a yeast called Malassezia. And, it affects the hairy and oily parts of your body like eyebrows, chest, and scalp. The only symptom is inflammation in the affected area. People may not even notice this disease because it does not create much trouble.
The reason for this disease remains a mystery even today. Discoid eczema is known to be the most difficult to treat. If you are a person suffering from this type of eczema, the patches on your skin would be in the shape of a disc. And, it can affect people of any age.
How Long Will the Symptoms Last?
Eczema symptoms may be resolved permanently, or sometimes the signs may disappear altogether for several years. For some young children, signs and symptoms of eczema may go into remission and improvement may be seen in the skin from the age of 5 to 6 years. However, some eczema sufferers may have to experience flare-ups during their growing up years. In some cases, the eczema symptoms may improve and then reoccur at the start of puberty.
Treatment is generally based on eczema symptoms you are suffering from. The doctor may require information about the patient’s medical history and any allergy he/she may be suffering from. Most of the time, it would be handled by your general practitioner. However, he/she may refer you to a dermatologist if things go beyond control.
Getting permanent relief from eczema symptoms may not be an easy job. However, preparing a diary of triggers and avoiding the same would be of great help to you.
Do not overlook eczema symptoms
Scientific studies have revealed that a large percentage of eczema sufferers are in the infant category, and symptoms of eczema may show in a person before the affected children turn five years old. According to some research, there has been evidence that some forms of eczema may get permanently resolved in some young children before they turn three years. However, parents of young eczema sufferers should not take any chance and take their infant kids for treatment as soon as eczema signs start appearing. In some cases, eczema symptoms continue to recur throughout the life of the affected person.