Know the Facts About Eczema and Dermatitis!

By: Editor in Illness on 14-11-2017

Your skin is your body’s largest organ. There are many conditions that can affect your skin including eczema. Eczema is a common skin condition that causes a wide range of symptoms including dry and itchy skin. Keep reading to learn more about different types of eczema and treatment options.

Eczema is a term for a group of skin conditions that cause a wide variety of symptoms. There are many different types of eczema including atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, hand eczema, neurodermitis, seborrheic dermatitis, stasis dermatitis, varicose eczema and more. The cause of eczema is unknown, but it is believed to be an overactive response from the immune system to an irritant. The overreaction of the immune system to the irritant causes the symptoms of eczema. Eczema is often found in people who have a history of allergies, asthma or skin barrier defects.

Eczema Symptoms

Eczema may cause a wide range of symptoms including:

  • Dry skin

  • Scaling skin

  • Red skin

  • Blotchiness

  • Cracking skin

  • Itchy skin

  • Rashes

  • Changes in skin pigmentation

  • Patches of thickened skin- especially on the knees, hands, neck, face, legs and elbows

  • Open sores

Eczema may cause flare-ups of symptoms in response to certain factors which may include environmental substances. A few known symptom triggers include touching rough materials, certain soaps, makeup, solvents, chlorine, dust, perfume, mold, pollen, detergents and creams, animal dander, prolonged exposure to hot or cold water, and hot or cold temperatures. Certain health conditions including respiratory infections can cause flare-ups. Stress may also cause flare-ups of eczema.

There is no known cure for eczema, but there are many treatment options available that can help to manage symptoms and flare-ups.

Types of Eczema

There are many different types of eczema. A few of the most common types include:

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis often affects people who already suffer from other conditions including asthma or hay fever. It also tends to occur in those who have defects in the skin barrier which allows moisture to escape and germs to enter. Atopic dermatitis can affect anyone of any age but it usually first shows up in infants and young children.

Atopic dermatitis can affect any part of the body, but it most often affects the face, hands, feet, elbows, knees and more. Atopic dermatitis can cause intense itching. Scratching the skin causes red, dry and thick patches. Scratching can cause rough patches or breaks the skin’s surface can cause wounds and possible infections. Atopic dermatitis may also cause a rash on the cheeks, legs, and arms. It may cause scaling skin and crusted or weeping sores.

Irritants can cause atopic dermatitis to flare up including certain soaps, laundry detergents, household cleaners, bath and body products, hot and cold temperatures, hormonal changes, dust mites, dander, fabrics and more.

There is no cure for atopic dermatitis but it may be treated in a variety of ways, depending on the severity of symptoms. Soothing and moisturizing dry skin using lubricating creams and lotions can help to minimize itching, flaking skin and dryness. Medications including injections and ointments may be used to help control the immune system’s reaction to irritants. Medications including antibiotics may be used to treat infections that occur due to breaks in the skin. Ultraviolet light may also be used to help treat the symptoms of atopic dermatitis.

It is very important to create a skin care routine if you have atopic dermatitis. This routine may include taking shorter showers, using a gentle moisturizer, avoiding allergens, avoiding scratching and wearing breathable materials.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a common condition that is better known as dandruff. Newborns and young babies may get seborrheic dermatitis on their scalp which is known as cradle cap. Babies may get yellow or brown scales and dry skin on their scalp. This condition in babies often clears up before they are a year old, but it may return later in life such as puberty. Babies may also have seborrheic dermatitis on their bottom which is often confused with diaper rash. Seborrheic dermatitis is most common in newborns and adults between the ages of 30 to 60. The condition is more common in men.

Many people believe that seborrheic dermatitis only affects the scalp but it can also develop in other areas of the body including the chest, eyelids, nose, ears, face, bottom, groin, armpits, below the breasts and more. Common symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis include skin that is red, dry, oily and itchy. It may also cause scales and flakes that are yellow or white in color. The symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis may overlap with many other skin conditions.

The cause of seborrheic dermatitis is unknown but it may involve stress, genetic factors, medical conditions, naturally occurring yeast on the skin, specific medications and certain climates with cold and dry weather.

There is no cure for seborrheic dermatitis but there are many beneficial treatment options that can help to alleviate symptoms. Sometimes it will clear up on its own, but it often will have periods of flare-ups and clear-ups. It is important to look for products that are clinically-proven, gentle or doctor-recommended. Seborrheic dermatitis that occurs on the scalp may be treated with shampoos and lotions that contain ingredients such as coal tar or other irritants. Other treatments include using products that attack fungus, UV therapy, prescription medications and lotions.