Eczema, also known as dermatitis, is actually a term for a skin condition caused by multiple types of skin swelling, all of which form a similar reaction pattern but are not necessarily related. It can appear during early childhood or develop as a patient gets older, and can result from several factors.
There are a number of varieties of eczema, but most types cause the hands, feet, face, and areas inside the elbows and behind the knees to be affected with rashes and itchy, dry skin. When patients scratch their skin, it will turn red, swell further, and itch more.
Though exact eczema causes are unknown, eczema is not contagious; it is believed to be caused by factors in a patient’s environment and genetics. Over time, patients may find that their eczema has begun to get better or worse, but it is normally a chronic disease. Patients with eczema also have an increased risk of developing asthma or hay fever.
Read on to learn more about eczema symptoms, treatment, and more.
There are at least eleven known types of skin conditions that lead to eczema, including dermatitis (atopic, irritant, allergic contact, and stasis), fungal infections, scabies, lichen simplex chronicus, pompholyx (dyshidrotic) eczema, nummular eczema, xerotic eczema, and seborrheic eczema.
The basic signs to look for include skin that is dry, sensitive, red, inflamed, oozing, crusting, or skin that itches very badly. A patient’s skin may also have swollen areas or patches of dark, rough, leathery, or scaly skin.
Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema, and results from genetics. This eczema usually causes rashes on the ankles, behind the knees, on the inside of the elbows, and on the neck or cheeks. It often occurs in children, with symptoms lessening or worsening as the child grows older, though it can also develop in adults.
Irritant dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis are similar in that they appear because of repeated exposure to a substance, though irritant dermatitis results from toxic substances and allergic contact dermatitis results from any substance the patient is allergic to. Stasis dermatitis most often occurs on patients with poor blood circulation in their legs, appearing on the swollen portions of the lower leg.
Scabies, which is a type of mite infestation, and fungal infections can cause a rash similar to other types of eczema, but both be identified under a microscope. Out of the types of eczema, these are the only types that are contagious.
Lichen simplex chronicus and nummular eczema can be identified by thickened, scaly skin known as plaques, with lichen simplex chronicus occurring on the neck and shins and nummular eczema occurring on the lower legs of older patients.
Xerotic eczema (dry skin) makes the skin so dry that it cracks and oozes, while seborrheic eczema results in an oozing rash behind the ears or covering the body in infants and a rash on the mid-chest, face, ears, or scalp in adults.
There are topical eczema treatments, such as skin creams and practicing proper skin care, as well as medications that can be taken.
Preventative measures can be taken to avoid flare-ups, including avoiding things that the patient is allergic to, such as certain types of food, pollen, or animals, and avoiding items that irritate the skin, such as certain lotions, soaps, and fabrics.
Light therapy using narrowband ultraviolet B (UVB) light waves emitted from a special machine can also be immensely helpful as an eczema treatment—particularly if the condition is severe. UVB light takes the best part of natural sunlight and uses it to treat the condition. Other therapeutic treatments, including UVA1, PUVA (psoralen and UVA), and broadband UVB phototherapy can also be implemented in special circumstances.
Light treatment can increase vitamin D production, reduce itchiness, calm inflammation, and stimulate the skin’s systems for fighting bacteria. Oftentimes, patients will see success with these treatments after topical treatments have proven unsuccessful. However, the results are not immediate; treatment often requires one to two months of frequent sessions to begin to see an improvement.
Contact our office today to schedule your consultation appointment with the experts at Laser Lipo and Veins and learn more about how we can help you manage eczema and other conditions that affect the quality of your life.