What is eczema?

Eczema is not a specific disease, but rather a pattern of skin reactions, which are associated with a variety of diseases. This reaction pattern involves the formation of small blisters containing a clear liquid atop of a red and swollen area on the skin. The skin will in this area often be irritated and itchy.


Some of the diseases that involve eczema are:

  • Atopic dermatitis/eczema: A disease that can be caused by genes inherited from a parent. This type of eczema is often developed at an early age and the rash is often located on the cheeks, neck, knees and elbows.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis: After exposure to allergens that the patient does not tolerate, the skin may react by producing eczema.
  • Irritant contact dermatitis: After repeated exposure to irritants, such as soap and water, the skin can become so irritated that it produces eczema.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis: A skin reaction to a naturally-occurring fungus on the skin resulting in a yellow/white flaky skin close to sebaceous glands, i.e. especially the face, scalp, back, skin folds and chest.
  • Stasis eczema: When the legs are swollen because of poor circulation, the skin can produce eczema.


What are the symptoms of eczema?

  • Increasing red areas of skin, which may be itching
  • Small blisters
  • Ulceration
  • If the eczema is chronic, the skin becomes dry, scaly and thickened. Cracks may also occur.


What are the causes of eczema?

There are several types of eczema, and the type depends on what triggered the skin reaction.

Thus, allergic contact dermatitis is triggered by a substance (allergen) that you are allergic to, such as metals or perfume, irritant contact dermatitis is triggered by irritating or toxic substances such as soap and water or food, and seborrheic eczema is triggered by a particular fungus called Pityrosporum Ovale, while atopic eczema is often associated with a genetic defect that can be inherited from a parent, who also have or have had atopic eczema.


What are the treatments for eczema?

Treatment of eczema depends on which type of eczema you are suffering from. If you are tested positive for allergic dermatitis, you will be advised to avoid contact with the allergen.

Eczema can be treated cutaneous with a lotion containing corticosteroids. This lotion is available with different concentrations, as the face, axillae and genital regions must be treated with more sensitive lotions than the rest of the body. The lotion is applied once a day for up to 3 weeks, but if you are suffering from chronic eczema, the treatment may last longer.

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