- 1 Identification
- 2 Prevention
- 3 Treatment
- 4 Treatment & Prevention Review
IdentificationNearly one in ten people worldwide will develop eczema — a term that describes skin conditions characterized by irritated, inflamed, itchy patches. Eczema is also called dermatitis, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. There are many types of dermatitis. In some people, eczema causes the skin to appear very red with a rash that seems to bubble up; in others it can appear scaly and dry with less discoloration. Eczema often appears after an itch has been scratched, and therefore is commonly referred to as “the itch that rashes.”
“Anyone could develop eczema, regardless of age.”
Where and When Eczema OccursEczema can also appear anywhere on any body part. Anyone could develop eczema, regardless of age. These are some of the most common occurrences:
- In infants, it is most commonly seen on the face, typically within the forehead, cheeks, neck and scalp. It can also be seen through the upper and lower extremities (arms and legs).
- In children and adults, it is most commonly seen as a patch on:
- skin folds of the neck area
- elbow creases
- popliteal (back of knee) area
What Causes Eczema?The definite cause of eczema remains unknown. Dermatologists have not fully disclosed its exact cause, but some of its potential sources can be identified. Genetics: Having a family history of eczema will increase the probability of you having it. People having allergen caused lesions would likely tell you that some of their family members have asthma and other skin allergies. There are many variations of eczema. The most common cause is allergens. When an allergen comes in contact with the skin, it can trigger itchiness. If this continues it becomes an eczematous lesion.
Atopic dermatitisThe most common type of eczema that affects most of the infants in the United States is atopic eczema. About ten to twenty percent of very young people are affected by this type of condition. Atopic eczema has no definite time when it will erupt. However, this condition frequently sets off before five years of age.
Contact DermatitisWhen a specific substance comes in contact with the skin, and suddenly an inflammatory reaction occurs on or around where the contact happened, this is contact dermatitis. There are two main types of contact dermatitis:
Irritant Contact DermatitisIf someone would suffer eczema after doing all the laundry, most likely the cause of the inflammatory reaction would be the soap that has irritated the skin. This is an example of irritant contact dermatitis. Irritant contact dermatitis results from touching a particular compound that causes a reaction after it has come in contact with the skin. For this type of dermatitis to occur, it would require a large amount of the allergens in order to create a rash.
Allergic Contact DermatitisPoison ivy is an excellent example of this type of eczema. Allergic contact dermatitis is much more complicated than irritant contact dermatitis. Even skin that has not come in contact with the allergen can also react, due to the body’s immune response.
How Eczema Happens
“When a person’s immune response gets compromised, eczema arises as a hyperactive inflammatory response…”
“…[scratching] the skin repeatedly, may result in a secondary bacterial infection…”
“Most importantly avoid scratching the part of the skin that is being affected.”
Chemical PeelsSalicylic acid is generally the best chemical peel for Eczema as it is a very strong keratolytic agent. It is able to remove plaques and rough spots very effectively, without being overly irritating to the underlying skin layer. Salicylic acid may be drying to the outer skin layer. In this case Skin Laboratory suggests using it in conjunction with Lactic acid. Proper use of Lactic acid can hydrate the skin. For this reason many customers alternate between Salicylic and Lactic peels weekly and find that this gives them the best results. By alternating the peels, you get good results without too much dryness.
ImmunomodulatorsTopical immunomodulators (TIMs) are another steroid free treatment. TIMs stop the immune cells from creating flare-ups (inflammation), restraining eczema.
Light Therapy & LaserA less preferred option, a treatment combining psoralen (oral drug) with medical strength UVA (ultraviolet radiation). This is known as PUVA (Psoralen UltraVioletA). Lasers are not used to treat Eczema.
Treatment & Prevention ReviewThough there are cases of eczema that can be managed simply, there are still cases that cannot be controlled by a simple medical treatment. Steroids which act on the body’s defense would most likely be recommended.
- Don’t scratch:
- Most importantly, on the part of the skin that is being affected, don’t scratch as it may create a bigger lesion from frequent scratching.
- Cut your nails regularly:
- Cutting your nail on a regular basis can prevent subsequent infection from secondary bacteria. Recurrent scraping of the skin via the nails spreads bacteria.
- Take a warm shower:
- Taking a shower can soothe your skin and provide a pleasing comfort. To maximize this effect, use non-irritating cleansers and apply moisturizers.