Eczema is one of the most common skin conditions. It affects over 50 million people in the United States alone. Of those, about 15% of adults and 10% of children are affected by eczema.
Eczema can occur as a result of a genetic predisposition, or it can be caused by an environmental trigger, such as certain types of medication, a certain food, or stress.
Eczema usually presents itself as dry, itchy, and inflamed skin.
There is a variety of eczema types and subtypes. Each type of eczema has its own triggers.
Common types of eczema include:
- Atopic eczema. This type of eczema is characterized by a sensitivity to environmental allergens. It most commonly occurs in children, but it can also affect adults.
- Contact dermatitis. This type of eczema occurs when your skin is exposed to an irritant or allergen.
- Dyshidrotic eczema. This type of eczema occurs when your sweat glands become overactive.
- Neurodermatitis. This type of eczema presents itself as dry, itchy, and often painful skin.
- Seborrheic dermatitis. This type of eczema affects the skin’s oily region.
- Stasis dermatitis. This type of eczemia develops in the lower extremities.
- Stasis pernio. This type of eczematous appears in the lower extremities.
Eczema can affect the whole body, or it may only occur on the extremities, such as the hands, feet, and face.
Symptoms of eczema
Eczema symptoms vary from person to person and from one area of the body to another.
Common symptoms of eczema include:
- Dry, itchy, red, and cracked skin
- Patches of dry, red, itchy, and flaky skin
- A rash that is often filled with fluid (pus)
- Small bumps that may appear on the skin
- Red or discolored skin
- Burning or stinging when touched
- Itchy skin
- Swollen skin
- Dry, cracked lips
- Hair loss
- A weakened immune system
What are the causes of eczema?
Eczema can be triggered by environmental factors, such as allergens, bacteria, and viruses.
Certain foods can also make you more likely to develop eczema. This is most commonly the case for people who are allergic to:
- Tree nuts
Stress and stress-related conditions can also increase your risk of developing eczema.
How is eczema diagnosed?
Your doctor will use a physical exam to diagnose eczema. They will also ask about your medical history and current symptoms.
Your doctor may also order a skin prick test, which is a series of injections to test your skin for allergies.
They can also use a skin biopsy to check for abnormal skin cells. This is a minor procedure that involves taking a small sample of skin and sending it to a lab for examination.
How is eczema treated?
Eczema can be treated with a variety of medications.
Your doctor will likely start you off using over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription therapies.
OTC medications include:
- Topical corticosteroids
- Topical calcineurin inhibitors
- OTC topical medications
- OTC topical corticosteroids
- OTC topical calcineurin inhibitors
- OTC moisturizers
- OTC moisturizers with steroids
- OTC moisturizers with zinc
Your doctor may also recommend a prescription medicine called topical calcineurin inhibitors.
These drugs, which include tacrolimus and pimecrolimus, are often used to treat severe cases of eczema.
You may also need to undergo a series of treatments. These may include:
- Light therapy (phototherapy)
- Medication (topical corticosteroids)
- Intralesional corticosteroids
- Oral corticosteroids
- Oral immunosuppressant drugs
- Intralesional immunosuppressant drugs
- Systemic immunosuppressant drugs
Your doctor may also recommend:
- Dietary changes
- Stress reduction
- Physical therapy
- Lifestyle changes
In rare cases, your doctor may recommend a skin graft. In this procedure, your doctor will remove skin from another part of your body and use it to cover the areas of your skin that are affected by eczema.
How can you prevent eczema?
Eczema is often triggered by a combination of environmental factors and genetics.
You can help prevent eczema by reducing your exposure to triggers. This includes:
- Avoiding contact with allergens and irritants
- Wearing gloves when gardening and handling produce
- Wearing long-sleeved shirts when gardening
- Wearing gloves when handling vegetables and fruits
- Wearing gloves when working with tools
- Wearing gloves or washable gloves when gardening
- Avoiding harsh soaps
- Avoiding cleaning with harsh detergents
- Avoiding cleaning your home with harsh cleansers
Now over to you
Eczema is a common skin condition that affects over 50 million people in the United States. It’s also one of the most common chronic conditions in children
It’s important to understand what triggers your eczema and to work with your doctor to find the right treatment.
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