What is Eczema?
According to the World Allergy Organization (WAO), eczema (also termed as Atopic Dermatitis) is an enduring, recurring, and itchy inflammation of the skin condition. It is often called “the itch that rashes” as the itching comes first after the occurrence.
Do the symptoms of eczema differ from person to person?
Yes, the symptoms of eczema differ individually. The varied signs and symptoms of eczema (atopic dermatitis) are:
- Dry skin
- Moderate to severe itching (especially at night)
- Red to brownish-grey blotches (mostly on the hands, ankles, feet, neck, wrists, upper chest, eyelids)
- Noticeable patches inside the bend of the elbows and knees
- In infants, on the face and scalp
- Adults develop thickened, cracked, scaly skin
- If scratching, the small, raised bumps may leak a fluid
Symptoms in infants
Common eczema symptoms in infants are;
- Scalp and cheeks rashes
- Fluid release from rashes
- Itchy rashes that may hamper sleep pattern
Symptoms in children
Common atopic dermatitis symptoms in children above 2 years of age are:
- Creases, elbows, or knees develop rashes
- Rashes develop on the neck, wrists, ankles, and the crease between the buttocks and legs
- Rashes could be lighter or darker
- Bumpy rashes
- Lichenification or thickening of the skin could develop permanent itchiness.
Symptoms in adults
In adults the symptoms of eczema are below;
- More scaly rashes
- Rashes mostly on elbows or knees or the nape of the neck
- Dry skin on the affected areas
- Rashes on most of the body
- Permanent itchy rashes
- Frequent skin infections
Eczema or atopic dermatitis usually begins at the age of 5 and continues throughout life. In some cases, the condition flares at times and then gets clear, even for several years.
How can one get eczema?
Eczema is an increasingly common skin condition over the past decades; the risk factors and causes are different. Eczema is mostly a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The risk of atopic dermatitis is more in first-degree relatives resulting in the impaired skin barrier. However, genetics alone cannot explain the rise in the prevalence of eczema over past decades and also cannot explain why eczema often clears spontaneously.
Lifestyle changes also trigger the health condition in eczema. Western lifestyle is said to cause eczema most commonly in industrialized countries and urban areas. In some people, foods like nuts and dairy products can trigger the symptoms of eczema. Environmental causes include smoke, soaps, pollen, and fragrances.
In some cases, the condition may outgrow, however, others will continue to have it throughout life.
Is eczema contagious?
No, eczema is not contagious. This condition is a result of the environment and genetics.
How is eczema diagnosed?
If you found the above symptoms on babies or your skin then see your doctor immediately. A doctor will check for the symptoms and ask you about any social or family history. Doctors may ask for allergy tests and other blood tests. For diagnosis and treatment of atopic dermatitis, there are skin care specialists in Coimbatore.
How is eczema treated?
Currently, there is no cure for the rashes and blotches caused by atopic dermatitis. Eczema treatment aims to heal the affected skin to avoid flares of symptoms. Your Doctor will provide a proper treatment plan depending on the age of the person, symptoms, and present state of health. In some people, early relief can be seen while others may notice it as a lifelong condition.
Below are the options for atopic dermatitis treatment.
To get relief from eczema symptoms, there are several ways to obtain supportive skin health and ease symptoms.
Certain home remedies that can be helpful in eczema are:
- Moisturizing every day
- Taking lukewarm baths
- Applying moisturizer immediately after bathing in order to seal in moisture
- Wearing cotton and soft fabrics
- Using soft and loose-fitting clothes
- Avoid wearing rough clothing
- In cold or dry weather, use a humidifier
- Use a mild soap or a non-soap cleanser while washing
- Eczema flares develop/worsen during winters, so extra precaution in winter is required to take care of the affected area
- Pat dry skin after bath and moisturize the skin well
The following are activities you should avoid if you tend to sweat excessively
- Avoid letting dirt or pollution affect the atopic dermatitis
- Avoid rapid environmental changes
- Know and learn the environmental triggers
- Maintain hygiene by cutting nails regularly to prevent scratching from breaking the skin from developing skin infections
In some cases, aloe Vera, coconut oil, and moisturizer can be used to reduce itchiness and maintain moisture.
Doctors can prescribe several medications for the treatment of atopic dermatitis, like:
- Topical steroids/creams and ointments:
- Antibiotics for skin infections.
- Medications for fungal and viral infections that are antiviral and antifungal in nature.
- Antihistamines reduce night-time scratching, as they tend to cause drowsiness.
- Topical calcineurin inhibitors suppress the activities of the immune system.
- A moisturizer to repair skin.
- Phototherapy to treat moderate dermatitis. During treatment, a skin specialist will closely monitor the skin.
If the spots get worse, without spending your time on home remedies, go for immediate medical action to obtain relief. Hospital care is key to get relief from extreme skin conditions. It is important to take immediate help from a doctor to prevent serious effects. Although so far, atopic dermatitis is not completely curable.
When to see a doctor?
Immediately look for the Skin Specialist
- If the condition and rashes make you feel uncomfortable and affect daily activities and sleep.
- If the skin rashes look like red streaks, pus, or yellow scabs.