Eczema and Dermatitis


Eczema or dermatitis is a general term that describes a common skin  inflammation and irritation. It has many causes and forms and usually involves itchy, dry skin or a rash. Or it might cause the skin to blister, ooze, crust or flake off.

Types of eczema

  • Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema. It usually starts in childhood, and often gets milder or goes away by adulthood.
  • Contact dermatitis is an irritated skin that’s caused by a reaction to substances you touch. It comes in two types: 
  • Allergic contact dermatitis is an immune system reaction to an irritant like latex or metal. Irritant contact dermatitis starts when a chemical or other substance irritates your skin.
  • Dyshidrotic eczema causes small blisters to form on your hands and feet. 
  • Hand eczema (also referred to as ‘dermatitis’). It mainly affects the palms but can also affect other parts of the hand. Coming into contact with irritants such as dust, detergents, cleaning agents, airborne sprays or even just frequent hand-washing can cause irritant hand eczema.
  • Nummular eczema This type of eczema causes round, coin-shaped spots to form on your skin usually appear on the lower part of the body especially on the legs.
  • Stasis dermatitis happens when fluid leaks out of weakened veins into your skin. This fluid causes swelling, redness, itching, and pain.

Signs and symptoms for all types of eczema

  • Dry, scaly skin
  • Redness
  • Itching, which may be intense

Treatment of eczema and dermatitis

There are treatments that can relieve the symptoms of eczema, but the condition cannot be cured. Even so, about half of children with eczema grow out of it by the time they become adults. The treatments for eczema include:

  • Moisturizing creams or ointments – These products help keep your skin moist. It helps to put on your cream or ointment right after a bath or shower.
  • Steroid creams and ointments – These can help with itching and swelling. In severe cases, you might need steroids in pills. But your doctor or nurse will want to take you off steroid pills as soon as possible.
  • Antihistamine pills – Antihistamines are the medicines people often take for allergies. Some people with eczema find that antihistamines relieve itching. Others do not think the medicines do any good.
  • Light therapy – Another treatment option is something called “light therapy”. 
  • Medicines that change the way the immune system works – These medicines are only for people who do not get better with safer treatment options.

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