28 FEB 2014
What Causes Eczema?
Eczema runs in families. Certain genes can cause some people to have extra-sensitive skin. An overactive immune system is thought to be a factor, as well. Also, it's thought that defects in the skin barrier contribute to eczema. These defects can allow moisture out through the skin and let germs in.
Factors that may trigger eczema include:
- Contact with irritating substances such as woolen and synthetic fabrics and soap
- Heat and sweat
- Cold, dry climates
- Dry skin
What Are the Symptoms of Eczema?
Almost always, your skin will itch before a rash appears in eczema.
Typically, eczema shows itself as:
- Patches of chronically itchy, dry, thickened skin, usually on the hands, neck, face, and legs (but it can occur anywhere). In children, the inner creases of the knees and elbows are often involved.
- If scratched, dry patches of skin and open sores with crusts may develop and may get infected.
Eczema comes in many forms. But the different types of eczema tend to cause these symptoms:
- Itching :- The itching can be intense. The damage to the skin during eczema is often due to scratching.
- Scaling :- The surface of the skin can flake off, giving the skin a rough, scaly appearance.
- Redness :- The affected skin may bleed and appear blotchy.
- Fluid-filled blisters :- These can ooze and form crusts.
- Cracking :- Severely affected skin may develop painful, deep cracks, also called fissures.
Depending on the cause, eczema may flare up and cause severe symptoms. But it can also become a chronic problem with less intense symptoms.
What Are the Treatments for Eczema?
Good skin care is a key component in controlling eczema. For some people with mild eczema, modifying their skin care routine and making a few lifestyle changes may be all that is needed to treat eczema. Other people with more severe eczema may need to take medications to control their symptoms.
Treatments for eczema include :
- Mild soap and moisturizer :- It's best to use a mild soap or soap substitute that won't dry your skin. Gentle soaps, known as syndets, are available at the drugstore (brand names can be recommended by your doctor or pharmacist). A good moisturizer (in cream, lotion, or ointment form) helps conserve the skin's natural moisture and should be applied immediately after a shower or bath, as well as one other time each day. Some people with severe eczema may benefit from taking baths with a small amount of bleach added to the water. The bleach helps to kill bacteria that live on the skin of people with eczema.
- Short, warm showers :- People with eczema should avoid taking very hot or very long showers or baths, which can dry out your skin.
- Reduce stress :- Take steps to reduce stress. Get regular exerciseand set aside time to relax.
- Get a humidifier
Medications and other treatments for eczema include :
- Ultraviolet light therapy