What causes eczema?
There are many causes of eczema, but the most common is a general allergic over-sensitivity, called atopy. This sort of eczema is known as atopic eczema, and it is linked with asthma and hay fever. These conditions often run together in a family. Another possible cause of eczema is contact with substances that irritate the skin chemically, called irritant contact dermatitis. This is caused by direct contact between the skin and the substance, which might be adetergent, soap, diesel or engine oil, strong chemical, cleaner, etc. Eczema can also be caused by contact with substances that the body has become
allergic to, called allergic contact dermatitis. This type commonly involves nickel, poison ivy, cosmetics, and rubber products. Infantile eczema often affects young babies, and is caused by moisture from drool or inflammation of the scalp (cradle cap). Varicose veins can lead to a form of eczema affecting the lower legs, called stasis dermatitis. This is also known as varicose or gravitational eczema.
Contact dermatitis can be divided into two distinct problems, which are referred to as direct irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis. The former term refers to exposure to acids, alkaline mixtures, detergents and various other chemicals that acutely inflame the skin. The condition can become chronic with repeated exposure. This form of dermatitis is often encountered in the workplace. Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by exposure to an allergen that sensitises the skin leading to acute inflammation when re-exposure occurs. A crucial distinction between the two is that prior exposure to the agent is necessary for allergic contact dermatitis to occur whereas direct irritant contact dermatitis can occur at the first exposure. For example, most people will develop dermatitis on first exposure to strong chemicals that are acid or alkaline in nature.
Other types of eczema arise as a result of causes within the body. These include: atopic eczema, seborrhoeic dermatitis, discoid or nummular eczema, pompholyx or dishydrotic eczema, and varicose dermatitis also known as stasis eczema. Other similar conditions, which are caused by internal factors, include juvenile plantar dermatosis and lichen simplex.
Eczema can cause a wide range of symptoms. All types of eczema cause itch, with the exception of seborrhoeic. The main symptoms (one or all may be present) include: redness, weeping skin, pain, heat, tenderness, scaling, crusting, dryness, fissures (broken skin) and vesicles (small blisters) occur. Over time, damage to the epidermis, the upper layer of the skin, can cause it to thicken and become scaly. This process is referred to as lichenification.
More information on eczema
What is eczema? - Eczema is a heterogeneous group of different non-infectious skin diseases. Eczema occurs in both children and adults, but usually appears during infancy.
What types of eczema are there? - There are various types of eczema, including atopic eczema (atopic dermatitis), contact dermatitis, varicose eczema, discoid eczema, nummular eczema, stasis dermatitis.
What are the symptoms of eczema? - Symptoms of eczema are itching and redness, and may make the skin dry and flaky. Eczema makes the skin more sensitive.
What causes eczema? - The most common cause of eczema is a general allergic over-sensitivity. Other types of eczema arise as a result of causes within the body.
How does eczema affect people? - In eczema, the main problems occur in the epidermis where the keratinocytes become less tightly held together.
How is eczema diagnosed? - Eczema is usually diagnosed through a physical examination. Further tests may include skin biopsy or patch tests.
What are the treatments for eczema? - Avoidance of the aetiological factors is one important therapeutical approach. Symptomatic treatment includes topical and systemic treatment regimens.
How can eczema be prevented? - Eczema flare-ups can be prevented by avoiding exposure to extreme temperatures, dry air, harsh soaps and bubble baths.
How to deal with infant or baby eczema? - For mild to moderate baby eczema, the application of moisturizer on a regular basis can be very helpful. Avoid as many eczema triggers as possible.
What is atopic eczema and its treatment? - Atopic eczema (atopic dermatitis) is the commonest form of eczema and is closely linked with asthma and hayfever.
What is dyshidrotic eczema? - Dyshidrotic eczema is a form of eczema often seen on the hands and feet where tiny blisters of serum form just below the skin's surface.
What is nummular eczema? - Nummular eczema is a chronic eczema characterised by coin-shaped, sharply demarcated lesions. Nummular eczema is more common in males.
What is hand eczema (hand dermatitis)? - Hand eczema, also called hand dermatitis, is a skin condition in which the hands develop a rash and become red, dry, cracked, and inflamed.
What is varicose eczema? - Varicose eczema is due to increased pressure within the veins in the leg. Varicose eczema affects the lower legs people in their middle to late years.
What's seborrhoeic eczema? - Seborrhoeic eczema is a common skin disease affecting any sebum-(natural oil) producing area of the skin.