by Vicki Gailzaid
According to Merriam-Websters: “Eczema: an inflammatory condition of the skin characterized by redness, itching, and oozing vesicular lesions which become scaly, crusted, or hardened” The word comes from a Greek word, “ekzein” which means “to break out or boil over”. Eczema is also sometimes called ‘dermatitis’, which is from another Greek word, “derma”, meaning skin. These two terms are often used interchangeably. The range of conditions covered by these two terms is large, but centers around symptoms such as inflamed and itchy skin that can develop into a rash when scratched.
For all that is known of the condition, the exact cause remains unknown. Thus, the cure also remains a mystery. However, eczema can be managed with proper treatment. Discovering and avoiding the things that make it worse as well as the treatment recommended by a competent dermatologist are the key to successfully dealing with eczema.
A dermatologist should be consulted if the condition is suspected, particularly because not every instance of dry skin is eczema. Exposure to cold and windy weather, as well as prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, can cause dry itching skin that have nothing to do with eczema. It’s just that skin quickly loses moisture in these conditions, so it needs hydration. Try a natural skin care product and see if with just dry skin care the condition clears up. It’s best to use a healthful skin cream that combines Vitamin A,D & E and Aloe Vera and is lanolin based. If the dryness persists, then you should consult a dermatologist; because it may be eczema.
Eczema afflicts men and women equally and impacts all races and ages. It generally falls into two categories: seborrheic dermatitis and atopic dermatitis. Seborrheic dermatitis is brought about by contact with irritants, such as chemicals, cleaning agents or perfumes. Atopic dermatitis is precipitated by allergies to a specific material, like nickel, chrome or rubber; it’s thought to be hereditary in families with a history of allergies. Atopic dermatitis is more common. Only about 3% of the general population becomes afflicted with seborrheic dermatitis.
However, there are variations of the disease. Some of the other conditions attributed to the eczema group are: dyshidrotic, nummular and herpticum eczema.
Dyshidrotic eczema, or hand eczema, usually affects the hands but also sometimes the soles of the feet and the sides of the toes and fingers. People afflicted with it get blisters that are small and clear and cause a burning or itching sensation. Often a rash develops with a symmetrical pattern. People who live in warmer climates are at a higher risk of the disease, but contrary to popular belief the disease is not related to sweat. The exact cause remains unknown, but there has been some evidence linking it to skin contact with metals or jewelry containing nickel.
Nummular eczema isn’t hereditary or allergic. It mainly affects the lower leg. It’s also known as “discoid” dermatitis due to the circular patches which appear, which are brown, red or pink and have a dry, cracked surface. The patches can get bumpy, blistered or crusted and extremely itchy. It can last for weeks or even months and then disappear all of its own.
Eczema herpeticum can occur when someone who has an eczema condition has skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the herpes simplex virus. Usually the herpes simplex virus revolves around cold sores near the mouth, but when it comes in contact with areas of pre-existing eczema then it can spread throughout the entire surface of the skin by using the eczema as a base. It is characterized by small skin blisters filled with yellow pus that appear on top of the usual eczema rash. The person can also experience high fever and flu-like symptoms. Unlike any other form of eczema, eczema herpticum can be fatal, eventually infecting the eyes, lungs, kidneys and other organs. Medical assistance must be obtained immediately for early treatment.
Eczema is the most common skin condition in the world, and its growth rate has increased in recent decades. Being able to spot it is a crucial first step. Then consult a dermatologist who can recommend a proper treatment. Make sure the treatment recommended doesn’t have any perfumes or chemicals that can act as an irritant. A lotion for dry skin as a treatment or in conjunction with it that is lanolin-based and uses natural ingredients, such as Aloe Vera and vitamins A, D & E will help to bring relief.