Eczema: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Overview

Eczema (aka. dermatitis) is a term for a group of different conditions where the skin gets red, itchy, swell and inflamed. It’s more common in babies and young children. But different types of eczema can be noticed in children, teens, and adults. Horrible as it may sound, eczema is not contagious. Though the exact causes remain unknown, most experts assume that it is likely caused by both genetic and environmental factors. Typically, eczema may improve or worsen with the passage of time, but it is often regraded as a chronic disease. As it progresses, affected people may develop further complications such as hay fever or asthma.

There are several types of eczema: atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, nummular eczema, seborrheic dermatitis and stasis dermatitis, among which the most common type is atopic dermatitis.

Babies and children are more likely to be infected, but adults can also be the potential victims. As children with atopic dermatitis grow older, this problem may get better or go away on its own. But in some cases, the skin may stay dry and get irritated easily. It’s worth mentioning that all types of eczema can cause itching and redness, but some may also cause your skin to blister, “weep,” or peel. In addition, it is possible to have more than one type at a time.

Symptoms

Symptoms may be slightly different, dependent upon different types of eczema. For all types of eczema, they can occur anywhere but usually affect the arms, inner elbows, backs of the knees, or head (particularly the cheeks and the scalp). Once people are affected, the main symptom is irritated, itchy, dry, rough, red, flakey and inflamed skin. It can flare up, subside, and then flare up again.

Common Symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis

  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Dry, scaly skin
  • Cracks behind the ears
  • A rash on the cheeks, arms and legs
  • Open, crusted or “weepy” sores (usually during flare-ups)

Common Symptoms of Contact Dermatitis

  • Redness and rash
  • Burning or swelling
  • Blisters that may weep or crust over

Common Symptoms of Dyshidrotic Eczema

  • Pain
  • Flaking
  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Scaly, cracked skin
  • Small fluid-filled blisters (vesicles) on the fingers, hands, and feet

Common Symptoms of Nummular Eczema – Nummular Dermatitis

  • Itching
  • Dry, scaly skin
  • Wet, open sores
  • Round, coin-shaped spots

Common Symptoms of Seborrheic Dermatitis

  • Redness
  • Greasy, swollen skin
  • White or yellowish crusty flakes

Common Symptoms of Stasis Dermatitis

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Scaling
  • Itching
  • Swelling around the ankles
  • Oozing
  • Infection
  • Open areas (cracking or larger ulcers)

Diagnosis

No specific test is currently available for eczema diagnosis. Normally, doctors will observe the patient’s symptoms and ask about detailed information such as previous health condition and family history. To rule out the possibility of other conditions that may have caused skin inflammation, doctors may recommend that the patient see a dermatologist or an allergist who may perform allergy tests to determine possible irritants or triggers. Moreover, doctors may ask people to avoid certain foods (e.g. eggs, milk, soy, or nuts) from their diet, switch detergents or soaps, or make other changes for a time to see if they are reacting to something.

Treatment

It’s painfully true that there’s no cure for eczema. But proper treatments can help relieve most of the symptoms. A dermatologist, allergist, or primary care doctor can help identify the most effective treatment for eczema. Basically, doctors would recommend different treatment options based on the severity of the symptoms, the patient’s age, and the location of the rash. One may also find it helpful to combine more than one treatment. Possible treatments may include:

Medications

  • Topical moisturizers (ointments or creams). The best time to apply moisturizer is after a bath or shower, with the skin patted dry gently.
  • Topical corticosteroids (aka. cortisone or steroid creams or ointments). Topical corticosteroids can be applied to ease skin inflammation. It’s important not to use a topical steroid prescribed for someone else.
  • Other topical anti-inflammatory medicines. These include medicines that change the way the skin’s immune system reacts.
  • Oral medications. These can include antihistamines, antibiotics, corticosteroid pills or other medicines that suppress the immune system.

Other Options

  • Acupuncture
  • Aromatherapy
  • Relaxation techniques (e.g. meditation, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation)
  • Having deep breathing exercises
  • Listening to relaxing music
  • Prioritizing a good night’s sleep
  • Light therapy or phototherapy: treatment with ultraviolet light
  • Applying wet wraps
  • Taking bleach baths
  • Applying a cold compress
  • Drinking green, black, or oolong tea
  • Applying coconut, sunflower, borage, and primrose oils

Related Posts

What Is the Definition of Eczema?

What Is the Relationship Between Eczema and Atopic Dermatitis?

What Are the Symptoms of Eczema?

How to Treat Eczema?



Keywords: Eczema

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.