Eczema is a condition that has been affecting people for many years yet there is a surprisingly low level of understanding amongst a number of patients, as this condition comes in many different forms.
If you have been affected by eczema, it can be quite a challenge to identify its different forms, and gain a clearer comprehension on the causes and symptoms of the condition, together with what treatment options might be available to you.
A common problem
Eczema is a skin condition that is relatively commonplace and is sometimes referred to as dermatitis.
The typical skin reaction is for your skin to become inflamed, but even though there are a variety of different eczemas, the symptoms are often very similar.
You may experience intense feelings of itchiness, causing you to damage your skin as a result of scratching yourself in order to relieve the itching. In addition, you may suffer from scaling, which is where the surface of your skin in the affected area becomes flaky, producing a rough and scaly appearance. Skin that becomes blotchy and may even bleed, cracking of your skin, which can sometimes be deep and painful, together with the possible appearance of fluid-filled blisters, which can seep and form a crust, are all common problems and symptoms associated with eczema.
The most common form of eczema
Despite the existence of many different types of eczema, the most common form is atopic dermatitis.
This type of eczema often manifests itself during your infancy or childhood, although it can affect you at any age. If there is a history of asthma, eczema or hay fever within your family, this tends to increase the prospect of being affected by atopic dermatitis yourself.
The areas affected are often likely to be your hands, face or feet, you may also find that your skin at the back of your knees or inner elbows might also show signs of eczema.
It is not just a family history that can trigger eczema. There are a variety of allergies, foods and even exposure to dust mites, which can trigger the problem or worsen existing symptoms.
Work related skin disease
Another common form of eczema is contact dermatitis or contact eczema, which is a type of eczema that results from contact with certain allergens or irritants in the environment.
Within the general description, there are actually two clearly defined types of contact dermatitis.
The first one is known as irritant contact dermatitis. Quite simply, this will often result from regular exposure to everyday items that might have the capacity to irritate your skin. This could be anything from types of detergent, bleach, even cold wind and exposure to raw food could trigger a skin reaction if you are susceptible.
This is obviously an issue if you have a job that causes you to become exposed to some of these sources of irritation, such as working in an occupation where you need to wash your hands regularly.
There is also irritant hand eczema. It is possible that if you have suffered from atopic eczema previously, this may cause you to suffer a progression to what is sometimes called hand dermatitis, and again, regular exposure to things like soaps and detergents, may well trigger a reaction.
This type of eczema perhaps highlights how we still don’t know a great deal about certain conditions that have been specifically identified through their characteristics, but their cause is still unknown.
Dyshidrotic dermatitis affects your hands and feet in particular. The first symptoms will often be a period of severe itching, resulting in blistering of the skin, followed by scaly patches. It is possible to experience deep cracks on your hands or fingers, and this is a form of eczema that is chronic and particularly painful for many who are affected by the condition.
As you might expect, treatment options can vary according to the type of eczema that you are suffering from, which is why it is important to get a diagnosis and identify what type you are contending with.
On a basic level, keeping your skin moisturized using medical moisturizers known as emollients, is the key to keeping the condition under control and can bring about an improvement in your skin.
Depending on the severity of your eczema and the mark it has left on your skin as well as your quality of life in some cases, it may well prove beneficial to consult a dermatologist in order to see what can be done to treat your skin disorder.
Laura Middleton is a retired nurse who enjoys spending some of her free time writing about various health topics. She also enjoys looking after her 4 year old Grandson and knitting.
Photo by Care_SMC