What is Eczema?
Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that causes itchiness, dry skin, rashes, scaly patches, blisters and skin infections. Itchy skin is the most common symptom of eczema. There are seven different types of eczema: atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, nummular eczema, seborrheic dermatitis and stasis dermatitis.
Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema; it is likely genetic, though the exact cause is unclear. It may be caused by a breakdown of the skin’s barrier cells or by immune dysfunction resulting in IgE sensitization. The rash of atopic dermatitis is often red and itchy and usually presents for the first time during childhood. Around 10 to 12% of children and almost 1% of adults in the United States have atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis is often seen in people with asthma and allergies. There are multiple treatment options available including moisturizers, topical steroids, topical immunomodulators, barrier repair creams, antihistamines and UV therapy.
Other common forms of eczema include:
- Nummular Eczema – Nummular, or “coin-shaped”, eczema presents as round scaly patches on the arms and legs. The patches are typically very itchy.
- Dyshidrotic Eczema – Small vesicles, or blisters, appear on the hands or feet. Another name for dyshidrotic eczema translates to “hand and bubble” in Greek.
- Asteatotic Eczema – Appears as itchy, dry, and cracking skin. Most commonly seen on the shins of older patients, though it can appear at any age. Aseatotic eczema is typically worse during the winter months. It can be helpful for patients with asteatotic eczema to avoid long, hot baths, and to moisturize regularly.
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