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Eczema: Types, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment And Home Remedies

Last Updated: Mar 14, 2022

What is Eczema?

In eczema condition, skin patches turn inflamed, red, itchy, cracked and rough. Some people develop blisters. The United States holds a high ratio of eczema people. There are different types and stages. Eczema specifically talks about Atopic Dermatitis which is the most common type of eczema.

Atopic means a group of ailments involving the immune system, including atopic dermatitis, hay fever and asthma. Dermatitis is the inflammatory condition of the skin.

For most infants, this condition outgrows in their tenth year whereas some people continue to have symptoms on and off throughout their life. People with proper treatment can have good control over the disease. Living with eczema is really challenging and it can range from mild, moderate to severe.

Eczema develops on the cheeks and chin in infants, but it can appear anywhere in the body. Even adults can develop with this condition even though it was not from their childhood.

Types of Eczema:

  • Allergic contact dermatitis (eczema) - A skin reaction which occurs with contact to a foreign substance.
  • Contact eczema - This occurs when the skin comes into contact with a certain allergen.
  • Dyshidrotic eczema - Irritation of the skin on the soles of the feet and palms and is characterized by tiny blisters.
  • Neurodermatitis - Scaly and itchy patches on the lower legs, wrists, forearms and hands.
  • Nummular Eczema - Circular patches which are itchy, scaly and crusty.
  • Seborrheic Eczema - Yellowish, scaly and oily ptches of skin occur on the face and scalp.
  • Stasis Dermatitis - This disorder is usually related to circulatory problems and is characterized by skin irritation on the lower legs.

What are the Symptoms of Eczema?

It is important to remember that eczema and its symptoms differ from person to person. There are some common symptoms of eczema as followed:

  • The very first symptom is intense itching
  • Later, the rash appears with reddishness, develops with bumps of different sizes
  • The itches may have a burning sensation, especially in thin skin like eyelids
  • It may start oozing and become crusty when scratched
  • Prolonged rubbing causes thickened plaques in the skin in adults
  • Over time, painful cracks may appear
  • The scalp problem may be rarely involved
  • Eyelids will turn itchy, puffy and reddish
  • The itching sensation may disturb the sleep pattern
  • Fungal infections such as ringworm, viral infections such as herpes and molluscum contagiosum are more common symptoms in people with eczema

What are the signs of Eczema in adults?

The signs of Eczema in adults are quite similar to those of children. You can say they are the elevated version. The symptoms can be seen at the later stage of Eczema as only after a certain stage of the disease symptoms can be seen on the surface.

These symptoms can be seen in the creases of the elbows or knees or the nape of the neck:

  • More scaly rashes
  • Dry skin
  • Itchiness
  • Other forms of skin infection
Summary: Signs of Eczema can be seen on the surface after a certain stage. So it is hard for an individual to detect the signs of Eczema at earlier stages.

Is Eczema a sign of a weak immune system?

Even though one of the reasons why one experiences Eczema is weak immunity. it's not important that it is a sure sign of weak immunity. It is just an indication that your immune system is sensitive or overreacting to some forms of body danger that are not real.

So it is important to know the root cause of the disease before coming to any conclusions, as it can help the doctor with the treatment.

Summary: Eczema does not indicate weak immunity, rather it indicates that your immune system is sensitive or overreacting to some forms of body danger that are not real.

Is Eczema a fungal or bacterial infection?

Eczema is not limited to one but it can happen from bacteria, fungus, or viruses. Staphylococcus aureus is the bacteria that enters through open cracks of the skin causing dry scaly skin and itchiness.

C. Albicans is a fungal infection that develops under moist and dark areas like hip joints and pubic areas. And lastly, herpes simplex virus (HSV), is the rarest and the only virus that can cause Eczema.

Summary: Eczema can be either bacterial, viral, or fungal in its type. They all spread via infected skin to the open sores or cracked healthy skin.

What are the stages of Eczema?

As per the duration and intensity of the disease, Eczema can be divided into two categories:

  • Acute Eczema: This is for a shorter period of time which generally fades after a few weeks by proper treatment.
  • Chronic Eczema: As the name suggests this category will stay as long as you live. It is generally developed during infancy and goes to the adult stages of life.

Both of the categories come under stage one of the infection, the second stage, known as subacute can be seen during the recovery time. During this stage, your skin is under the healing process.

It is important to complete the course of treatment as untreated Eczema can develop in a full-blown rash which can be damaging to the skin.

Summary: There are two stages of Eczema namely the breeding and subacute stage. While breeding takes place under the Eczema development on the skin, subacute takes place when the healing process starts.
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What is the Main Cause of Eczema?

The exact cause of eczema is not known yet. Atopic dermatitis is the most common type resembles an allergy whereas the skin irritation is higher in children than in adults which is not an allergic reaction. However, the combined factors that cause eczema is found to be

  • Abnormality in the immune system
  • Genetic factors
  • Defects in the skin that allows germs in and moisture out
  • Activities that make the skin to be more sensitive and the environment
  • A poor skin barrier allows irritants, allergens, viruses and bacteria easily
  • The skin’s barrier ability becomes diminished when eczema affects a person

What deficiency causes Eczema?

The deficiency of vitamin A and D in your body can make your body vulnerable to skin problems like Eczema. This is because both vitamins have a vital role in strengthening your immune system. The deficiency of one or both can weaken your immune system, resulting in Eczema and other forms of medical disorders.

Summary: There can be many reasons why your body lacks develop immunity towards certain diseases. One of them is vitamin A and D.

How to Prevent Eczema?

Some of the ways through which eczema can be prevented are as follows: Intense perspiration and overheat can trigger eczema outbreaks. Avoid heat environment and keep your bedroom always cool.

  • Stress may increase outbreaks. Do physical exercises, yoga, meditation to avoid stress and stay relaxed
  • Do not scratch the skin, gently rub the itching area
  • Wear comfortable clothes especially choosing cotton dress allows your body to breathe well
  • Do not expose to irritants and allergens
  • Try to take a bath in lukewarm rather than hot water
  • Use a mild soap for bath and pat the skin instead of rubbing
  • Drink at least eight glasses of water that keeps your skin moist
  • Use mild moisturizers

How long does Eczema last?

Depending upon the stage, the duration of Eczema can be for weeks or a lifetime. In case of acute Eczema, one can experience skin discomfort for a shorter period of time, like a week or two. But on the other hand chronic Eczema goes on for a lifetime and cannot be cured completely.

Summary: In the case of acute Eczema, the flare-up can stay for weeks, but in the case of chronic Eczema, it can last forever. One can see the development of chronic Eczema at the early stages of life.

What is the Way For The Diagnosis of Eczema?

  • A detailed medical history will help to diagnose eczema. Besides, additional tests support the atopic dermatitis diagnosis.
  • Blood Test: In this test, eosinophils levels & IgE antibody will be checked out. Generally, atopic dermatitis and eczema people will have elevated levels of eosinophils and IgE.
  • Skin Biopsy: Small pieces of skin is removed and tested for other diseases such as low-grade skin cancer or psoriasis other than atopic dermatitis.
  • Buccal swabs: Tissues are swabbed from inside of the cheek with a cotton applicator to obtain cells as a DNA source material to trace out for mutations in the filaggrin gene, one of the main causes of eczema.

Other than the above, patch testing, skin allergy testing will be done from time to time.

What is the Best Treatment For Eczema?

  • Eczema treatment is provided with four goals such as controlling the itch, healing the skin, preventing flares and preventing infections. The treatment depends on the age, medical history and how bad the symptoms are.
  • Creams with hydrocortisone steroids help in relieving itching and reducing inflammation. They are available in different strengths from the OTC to the prescription medicines.
  • NSAID ointment is a new prescription non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug that is used to treat mild to moderate eczema. It is advised to apply twice a day and it is effective in reducing inflammation and helping the skin return to normal appearance.
  • Antibiotics are prescribed to treat bacterial infections caused by scrubbing the skin. Antihistamines help in relieving itching symptoms during the night time.
  • Drugs help in reducing immunity such as cyclosporine, methotrexate, and mycophenolate mofetil and corticosteroid pills, shots, liquids are used to reduce the flare-ups and itching.
  • UV light therapy and PUVA therapy are also recommended.

How to cure Eczema permanently?

Eczema is one of the most difficult diseases to control or cure permanently. In case of acute Eczema, one can think of it in the course of treatment is followed properly alongside the preventive methods.

However, in the case of chronic Eczema, it cannot be permanently cured. From the starting of the infancy stage, one can get the disease which goes on for a lifetime.

Summary: Only acute Eczema can be cured permanently. This will only happen if the treatment one follows is correct and done as per the doctor's advice.

How do you stop Eczema from spreading?

Skin infections like Eczema can be very discomforting, especially when it is nighttime. During the day our body defence mechanism works, but at night it slows down resulting in more flare-ups and spread. Here are some of the tips that you can use in order to control Eczema from further spread:

  • Moisturise your skin, use creams and other forms of skin preventive ornaments that have been prescribed by your doctor.
  • Avoid things that might trigger your immune system or skin allergies.
  • Avoid going into too hot or too cold places.
  • Keep the infected area clean, dry, and well treated.
Summary: Skin infections like Eczema are easy to prevent and cure. It just needs a bit more hygiene, care, and moisturizing to heal.

What Foods to Avoid if You Have Eczema?

Though food directly does not get involved with the condition still, it flares up the symptoms. The common foods to avoid are soy, nuts, eggs, citrus, gluten, tomatoes, and dairy products since they seem to have allergic among the affected people. Preservatives and artificial ingredients also aggravate the symptoms and such foods will be high in Trans fats such as margarine, processed food.

High sugary items such as cakes, some smoothies, burgers induce the inflammation. People with dyshidrotic eczema should avoid nickel rich foods such as lentils, black tea, beans, shellfish, pears, green apples. It is always good to eat well-balanced food and avoid triggers whichever you personally feel.

What vitamin is good for Eczema?

Since the deficiency of vitamin D can be a cause of Eczema, its optimum presence in your body can help you achieve prevention or healing against skin infection. It helps you strengthen your immune system and skin defence which boosts the healing process of the skin under Eczema attack.

Summary: Vitamin D is known to have a great impact on our immune strength and Eczema development on the skin.

What is the best Eczema medication?

The course of treatment prescribed under Eczema usually includes oral medication and creams that can be purchased without any problem. Medications that include steroids, antihistamines, and topical antiseptics are mostly prescribed, they are over-the-counter elements which means they can be purchased by anyone without any medical attention.

Summary: Medication for Eczema may include steroids, antihistamines, and topical antiseptic that will help you soothe your skin and fight the bacteria/virus/fungus that has been infested in your skin.

How Can You Get Rid of Eczema Naturally?

Natural ways of treating eczema are as follows:

  • Licorice root extract shows a promising reduction of itching. Adding a few drops of coconut oil or itch cream gives extra benefits.
  • Foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids help during the flare-up times to boost immune function and speed up the healing process.
  • Taking Vitamin E speeds up healing by reducing inflammation and the topical ointment relieves itching and prevents skin from scarring.
  • Taking Vitamin A rich food helps for skin improvement
  • Calendula cream heals skin cuts, burns and inflammation. It improves blood flow in the affected area, helps in hydrating the skin and fights against infection
  • Alternative treatments like hypnosis, acupuncture reduce stress and anxiety levels.

Summary: Eczema is generally known as skin itching and irritation. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi that have been entered into the body of the host by open cracks and sores. It is divided into two subcategories. While the acute one is treatable, the chorionic one cannot be treated via general medication. Eczema can be prevented by keeping yourself hydrated and safe from an infected person.

References

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Written ByDr. Ashish DavalbhaktaMBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery,FRCS (UK),FRCS,MS General Surgery,Mch (Plastic Surgery)Cosmetology
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