Eczema and Dermatitis
Eczema is a type of dry skin condition, also known as dermatitis.
More specifically, eczema is the name of a group of dry skin conditions that led to patches of redness, soreness and irritation, and there are a number of different types of dermatitis that fall into this category, namely atopic dermatitis, seborrhoea dermatitis and contact dermatitis.
What causes Eczema and Dermatitis?
Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema, and in roughly eight out of 10 affected children, both parents have the condition.
Eczema can be passed down hereditarily, but there are also environmental factors that can increase the chances of it developing. Common triggers include dust and pollen, while things like exercise, contact with irritants, stress and hormonal changes can also bring about a flare up.
Atopic eczema (atopic dermatitis) is most common in children, but it can also affect adults as well. It is common in those who suffer from allergies, and so it often accompanies other conditions such as hay fever. For contact dermatitis, the cause is the touch of an irritating substance such as perfumed soaps, detergents, or latex.
What are the symptoms of Eczema and Dermatitis?
Eczema manifests itself in patches of dry skin that are often red, scaly and itchy.
In more severe cases, these patches can become blistered and the skin cracked. The symptoms and levels of severity of eczema and dermatitis vary between individuals, but common symptoms include crusting, cracking, skin flaking and in serious cases, oozing or bleeding.
Images of Eczema and Dermatitis
These images are kindly provided by DermNetNZ.org for non-commercial use, for the purpose of education and information. The images have not been modified and DermNetNZ do not endorse The London Skin and Hair Clinic. You can find a copy of the license at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/nz/.
How is Eczema and Dermatitis diagnosed?
A Dermatologist diagnoses eczema through clinical examination and taking a medical history. In some cases they may recommend a skin biopsy, or patch testing in order to exclude other skin conditions.
What kind of Eczema and Dermatitis treatment is available?
In order to most effectively treat dermatitis or eczema, it’s important to have a correct diagnosis to ensure you are using the right products.
Your GP may commonly prescribe anti-inflammatory medications such as topical steroid creams and ointments, or oral systemic corticosteroids can be also prescribed. Antihistamines to help alleviate the itchiness can also be prescribed, as can calcineurin inhibitors, or drugs that help to reduce inflammation. Your doctor or dermatologist may also recommend the use of specially formulated moisturizers that help to rehydrate and repair the skin, while moderate to severe cases of dermatitis or eczema may require a course of phototherapy, or light therapy. During this treatment, the affected skin is exposed to ultraviolet waves, which can calm inflammation while increasing the production of vitamin D.
There are some things that suffers can do to make life with eczema or dermatitis more comfortable. Having a warm bath and moisturizing immediately afterwards to help seal in hydration can help alleviate the symptoms of eczema, as can further frequent moisturizing throughout the day. Those who suffer with contact dermatitis especially should refrain from using perfumed fabric softeners or soap, and should use mild soaps and other fragrance-free products that have been specially formulated for sensitive skin.
Finally, identifying the triggers is key, as once isolated you can avoid these to reduce the inflammation and discomfort caused by eczema and dermatitis.