Eczema is a type of disease that affects the skin, causing it to itch and peel off. The effects of eczema vary in severity.
The disease affects roughly thirty million Americans and is frequent in the rest of the world. It is mainly high in children and infants and tends to fade off with time. However, for some, the effects continue into adulthood, forming about three percent of adults affected by the condition.
Eczema can be easy to manage or difficult, depending on the condition’s grievousness and varies from one person to the other.
This article will explain the types of eczema, eczema causes, eczema symptoms, and eczema treatment plan to minimize its effects and help those living with it manage it.
It will also be an eye-opener to parents who have children with eczema and help them identify early signs of eczema and treat the disease to minimize its effects.
Types of Eczema
The effects showcased on the skin are used to classify the various types of eczema. Understanding the different types is essential to enable us to manage the condition adequately.
Eczema is a reaction of the skin to different environments, foods, and allergic eruptions. Its classification is caused by the changes observed on the skin or its trigger. Various skin conditions that produce the different types of eczema include;
The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis, characterized by the eruption of rashes on specific body areas such as cheeks, elbow, and neck area.
The rashes are tiny and quite distinct and rapidly spread to other parts of the body. They also tend to dry out and have a whitish appearance that makes them distinctive.
This eczema type is frequent and affects people early in life, especially those predisposed to inhalant allergies. It is thus one of the most common types of eczema, especially in children and infants.
This type of eczema affects the hands and toes. Characterized by blisters on the edges of the toes and hands that may be itchy, it causes the skin in the areas to turn red from constant itching or flake off due to dryness.
Nummular eczema generally affects adults and adolescents. It gets characterized by round plaques of chipping skin on the leg and thigh areas. The plaques may itch or produce a whitish substance that causes large spots on the skin area.
This type of eczema can be quite vicious in children and gets characterized by a rash or inflammation on the back of the ears or on the scalp that spreads quickly and produces liquid oozy substances.
The condition can soon spread to other parts of the child’s body, making it hard for them to sleep or sit still. Seborrheic dermatitis in adults causes itchiness on the scalp, behind adults’ ears, face, and mid-chest areas.
This type is one of the most common types of eczema in both infants and adults. It causes the skin to excessively dry out and can lead to blisters. The skin may also crack, leading to wounds that may, at times, be painful and hard to manage due to infection as they are exposed.
This type of eczema is caused by continual exposure to toxic substances or reactive chemicals. It is hard to detect as the skin takes time to react; thus, one may not know what irritates the body. The condition involves many trials and errors as we try to figure out what substances the body identifies as toxic.
What Causes Eczema?
The primary cause of eczema is unknown; however, the infection has shown characteristics affecting individuals with a family history of allergies or asthma.
Some argue that the causes of eczema may be the body’s immune system and its reaction to irritants. However, note that the skin condition does not spread by contact or touching people with eczema; thus, discrimination of people with the state is unnecessary.
People with eczema may experience skin eruptions and irritations that cause them to itch from contact with;
- Household products like harsh detergents or soap
- Rough fabric
- Sitting on the grass
- Animal dander
- Lying on bare metallic chairs or doors
They may also be affected by environmental factors such as
- Hot or cold weather that irritates their skin, making it itch
- Insect bites or contact
- Inhalation of pollen or fur
Some eczema causes may be the body’s reaction, such as
- A low or abnormally functioning immune system that prevents the body from fighting foreign irritants or overly reacts to different substances
- Underlying health conditions such as hay fever and asthma
- Weakened veins that hinder proper circulation
- Damp hands and feet
- Allergic reactions to chemicals and certain substances
- High-stress levels
- Skin malfunctions that remove moisture and allow germs into the body
- Endocrine disorders such as thyroid disease
Eczema can also get caused by lifestyle choices such as
- Continual exposure to harsh chemical substances introduced to the body from hairdressing, the use of makeup, and nail polish.
- Carrying out laundry or dry cleaning with harsh or toxic chemicals and substances
- Increased intake of foods with high protein levels that causes hormonal imbalance
- Living in urban areas with high pollution
It is essential to understand that what gets characterized as eczema causes is mainly the triggers that produce a conducive environment for manifesting the skin condition. The cause of eczema is unknown, but understanding the above catalysts is essential in treating an infant, child, or adult. Understanding the above triggers and causes will fully equip us to know how to deal with individuals living with the condition.
Symptoms of Eczema
The symptoms of eczema vary depending on age, exposure to irritants, and skin color. Some types of condition, such as atopic eczema, is common in infants characterized by dry, flaky skin that fades away as the child grows older.
However, for those who continue to have the condition, an experience of itchiness is a similar symptom across most individuals.
Note that the symptoms of eczema showcase themselves differently in the three age groups. This section will thus attempt to properly showcase the different signs in infants’ adolescents and adults. Eczema symptoms are also different in people with various skin pigmentation.
People with lighter skin exhibit clear red patches, while those with darker skin may not have these red patches but exhibit rashes that are ring-like and flaky. The signs may vary from mild to severe and should be closely monitored.
Symptoms in Infants
Symptoms in infants under the age of two may be frustrating to parents because the child cannot talk and explain what triggers the condition.
Parents may get caught trying out different regimens as they unravel what causes the child’s symptoms. We can take a keen interest in the below signs to help us understand when our child is having a flare-up and distinguish which type of eczema they have for proper diagnosis;
- Rashes on the infant’s cheeks and scalps – These rashes may be different from normal rashes in how they form and spread.
- In children, eczema spreads rapidly and may start as small patches in the scalp that end up being weepy and oozing watery substance.
- The rashes may also swell up through the body, releasing sticky fluid. These rashes result in open sores across the child’s body, making everyday activities like a bath painful.
- Excessive itchiness due to the rashes makes the child restless and unable to sleep.
- Infants also develop a crusting condition on the arms, chest, and leg areas. The rashes can quickly evolve to oozing and remove pus in extensive circumstances.
Symptoms in Children
Eczema in children covers the age of 2-18. Most children born with the condition usually wade off the symptoms at this age.
However, for some, the state continues characterized by a severe showcase of symptoms followed by instances of no signs.
At this age, eczema varies from mild to severe but is very unpredictable in how it shows its symptoms. Some of the characters that help identify the condition in children include;
- Bumpy rashes on specific parts of the body, such as legs, hands, and chest areas. The rushes usually are noticeable and cluster together in patches.
- Clustered rashes that make the skin lighter or darker depending on the individual’s skin tone.
- Rashes in the creases of elbows and knees that tend to peel off with time
- Full body rashes experienced periodically, usually starting from one area of the body, such as the neck and rapidly spreading within a few days.
- Lichenification of various parts of the skin that causes the skin to itch continually
- Skin discoloration in darker people where the body experiences patches with different pigment intensity
- Dry and scaly skin that makes the child have white substances coming from the patches when scratched. These patches make the child always dry and may lead to extreme itching and scratching.
- Open sores due to the child’s constant scratching
Symptoms in adults
Rashes that occur on the face, back of the knees, feet, wrists, and hands. The rash is often whitish, making it unique from a usual rush and found in patches.
Significant changes in pigmentation with dark paper experiencing light and dark patches on the skin while fairer people experience dark brown patches.
The skin becomes dry, thick, and scaly and always looks dry even when the ointment gets used.
Scratching of the skin may lead to further damage as it exposes the inner layer of the skin to dirt and outside influences. Thus, it may lead to infected sores that lead to infections or reinfection, making it hard to manage the condition.
Individuals who live with eczema from a young age and outgrow the symptoms may develop various symptoms like having eye problems, allergies, and irritations. Identifying the triggers of these symptoms enables the person to manage the disease properly.
Eczema has no cure; however, doctors work hard to ensure that the affected areas are well taken care of to avoid reinfection and minimize adverse symptoms.
Remedial plans for eczema can be medical or initiated from home. Doctors who advise individuals with this condition include dermatologists and family physicians.
Family physicians are a good fit for mild eczema and are likely to prescribe ointment creams that mitigate the disease’s effects. For severe eczema cases, working with a dermatologist is recommended. They understand the skin in-depth and are likely to offer a more extensive diagnosis and specify the type of eczema one faces.
An eczema treatment plan is based on the patient’s age, the symptoms experienced, known allergies, and the condition’s extent.
A doctor can prescribe medications that range from antifungal ointments, antibiotics, antihistamines, and phototherapy. These medications help reduce or eliminate the symptoms experienced.
The drugs are in the form of creams, moisturizers, or capsules. Eczema treatment plans go a long way in helping a person live with eczema; however, home remedies are essential to prevent the symptoms or mitigate their effects. Some home remedies to carry out include;
- Showering twice a day to avoid excessive drying of the skin that may lead to cracking
- Applying moisturizer immediately after every shower to lock in moisture
- Wearing soft fabrics that are absorbent to avoid irritating the skin
- Using soaps that are mild and helpful in locking in moisture
- Use of humidifiers in dry and cold weather
- Understanding triggers and avoiding them
- Minimizing the continual intake of foods with high protein and incorporating more plant-based protein.
- Treating the skin gently by patting it with a towel after a shower instead of rubbing that many cause skins to peel
- Drinking water and fluids to ensure the body has enough moisture
Eczema is a manageable condition when well understood. It is essential for us individuals who live with the state or have loved ones with the disease to be more careful in treating our body to reduce its effects.
Understanding our triggers and knowing when to place precautions is essential in mitigating the impact of eczema.
Parents with children who have eczema should also work closely with physicians to identify triggers as severe eczema cases may lead to skin disorders and diseases such as vitiligo and skin cancer in extreme cases. It is thus essential that we take the condition seriously and give it the due attention it deserves.