Dermatologist Norfolk - Dermatitis or inflammation of the outer layer of the skin called the epidermis is referred to as eczema. The term literally means "to boil over", in the Greek language. Practically 1 in 9 people in the UK have been diagnosed with eczema at some point in their lives. In some languages, the terms eczema and dermatitis are synonymous and often the two conditions are classified together. In other languages, the word eczema refers to a chronic condition and dermatitis implies an acute one.
The term "eczema" covers a range of persistent skin conditions. These comprise recurring skin rashes and dryness that have connected signs of itching, dryness, flaking, crusting, bleeding, oozing, skin oedema or swelling and blistering. Sometimes, temporary skin discoloration can result. As well, scratching open a lesion that is in the healing process may enlarge the rash and could lead to probable scarring.
Describing the signs of eczema could be somewhat confusing. The descriptions can include the location, the possible cause or the specific appearance. Numerous sources even make use of the terms atopic dermatitis which is the most common type of eczema and the word eczema interchangeably with can add to the confusion.
These classifications are ordered by the frequency of incidence.
Atopic eczema, that is likewise known as infantile eczema, flexural eczema or atopic dermatitis, is an allergic disease believed to have a genetic component. Atopic eczema is prominent in families with individuals who likewise have asthma. There tends to be an itchy rash that develops on the head and scalp, the inside of elbows, behind the knees and on the buttocks. This kind of eczema is rather common in developed nations. It could be difficult to distinguish between irritant contact dermatitis.
The categories which contact dermatitis falls into is allergic and irritant. Irritant dermatitis may be caused to specific irritants consisting of detergents like sodium lauryl sulphate. Allergic dermatitis can occur as a result of a delayed reaction to some allergen like for example nickel or poison ivy. Wet cement is an example of a substance which acts as both an irritant and an allergen. Phototoxic dermatitis can take place together with various substances after exposure to sunlight. Around three quarters of contact eczema cases are the irritant type. This is the most common occupational skin disease. If traces of the offending substance could be removed from one's environment and avoided, contact eczema could be curable.
There is a type of eczema that worsens during dry winter weather and commonly affects the limbs and the trunk. It is called xerotic eczema or craquele eczema, asteatotic eczema, winter itch, craquelatum eczema or pruritus hiemalis. The itchy, tender skin resembles a cracked and dry river bed. This condition is very popular amongst older patients. A related disorder is Ichthyosis.
Cradle cap in infants is officially referred to as Seborrheic or Seborrhoeic dermatitis. This is a condition which is often classified as a form of eczema that is associated closely to dandruff. It causes a greasy or dry flaking of the scalp and could also have an effect on the eyebrows, face and sometimes the trunk. This is considered a harmless condition except in severe conditions of cradle cap. In newborns, it presents as a crusty, thick, yellow scalp rash which is called cradle cap. This particular condition has been connected to a lack of biotin and is normally curable.
Less Common Kinds of Eczema
Another kind of eczema is referred to as Dyshidrosis or pompholyx eczema, dyshidrotic eczema, housewife's eczema or vesicular palmoplantar dermatitis. This form is known for just showing up on the soles, palms and sides of fingers and toes. It presents with tiny opaque bumps known as vesicles, cracks and thickening skin are accompanied by itching that worsens at night. This is a common kind of hand eczema and it becomes worse during warm climate.
Venous e., Discoid e., Duhring's Disease or DermaDermatitisetiformis, Autoeczematization and Neurodermatitis are other less common types of eczema, which are overlaid by viral infections. Some eczemas result from underlying disease, like lymphoma for example. There are several other rare eczematous disorders that exist in addition to these also.
Some attribute eczema to the hygiene hypothesis. This theory postulates that the cause of asthma, eczema and other allergic diseases is due to an overly clean surrounding. This theory is supported by epidemiologic studies for asthma which states that during development it is very important to be exposed to bacteria and immune system modulators and hence, missing out on this exposure increases the risk for allergy and asthma.
Another theory states that the excrement from house dust mites cause the allergic reaction of eczema. Even if 5% of people show antibodies to the mites, the hypothesis awaits further justification.
Most often the diagnosis of eczema consists mainly on history and physical examination. However, various cases could require a skin biopsy.
Due to the risk of developing eczema vaccinatum, people suffering from eczema should not be given the smallpox vaccination. This is a possibly sever and sometimes fatal complication.
Because of the fact there is no known treatment for eczema; treatments are generally based on controlling the signs by relieving the itching and reducing inflammation. There are some medications offered like for example corticosteroids, hydrocortisone, injectable or oral corticosteroids. These come with several potential side effects, most normally thinning the skin, although there is ongoing study in this particular area. Usually, these steroids are to be used very carefully and a little goes a long way.
Immunomodulators are one more type of cure although a public health advisory has been issued by the FDA because of probable risk of skin cancer and lymph node cancer. Various professional medical groups disagree with the FDA findings.
Some of the more severe cases of eczema are treated with immunosuppressant drugs. Sometimes these are prescribed and give slight to even dramatic improvements in the patient's eczema. Nevertheless, these can dampen the immune system and have major side effects. In order to be on this form of therapy, patients be carefully monitored by a medical doctor and go through regular blood tests.
The itching factor of eczema could be counteracted with the use of an antihistamine and various anti-itch drugs. These work to reduce damage and irritation to the skin by initiating a sedative effect. Several popular sedating antihistamines consist of Phenergan or Benadryl. Moisturizers are also applied to the skin to help the healing and soothing purpose. Capsaicin applied to the skin acts as a counter irritant and hydrocortisone cream is likewise used, although, many health food stores provide some preparations together with essential fatty acids and tea tree oil as an alternative.
By applying cool water via swimming, a wet washcloth or a bath, a lot of patients have found quick relief. One more proven soothing treatment is to apply an icepack wrapped in a soft cloth or even making use of air blowing from an air conditioning vent.
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