Eczema is the umbrella term for a skin condition that causes the skin to become red, itchy and inflamed. The term originates from the Greek word meaning ‘to boil over’. The skin condition is very common among children but adults can get it too. Fortunately, eczema is not contagious but it can cause a lot of discomfort.
Types of eczema
All eczema looks like a flare-up of the skin that is red and dry but there are actually six different types of eczema. It is important to understand which type of eczema you or your child has so you can manage it accordingly. The best way is to visit your doctor for a consultation. Here are the 6 types of eczema and how you can treat them:
- Atopic Dermatitis
The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis. This type of eczema is considered chronic because it comes during childhood and becomes milder as you grow older. However, it never goes away completely. A person who has atomic dermatitis will find scaly patches, redness and small bumps. It commonly affects the elbows, knees, and hands.
Atopic dermatitis occurs when the barrier of the skin is weakened allowing irritants and allergens to get into the body more easily. Depending on the severity of eczema, your doctor can recommend a topical or oral ointment or UVB light therapy.
- Contact dermatitis
Contact dermatitis can be an irritant or allergic. The redness or itchiness is a negative reaction to a substance that you touch. Allergic dermatitis is a rash that is caused in response to the immune system. A reaction to poison ivy or detergent can cause this type of eczema. Irritant dermatitis is a rash on the skin which can occur after wearing a bandage.
If you have contact dermatitis, your doctor will identify its cause, that is, the substance that is causing the reaction. With contact eczema, only the area that has come into contact with the irritant will be affected. The doctor can recommend a topical/oral ointment or a steroid if required.
- Seborrheic dermatitis
This is more commonly known as dandruff, but it is also considered a type of eczema. In addition to dandruff on your scalp, you can also find flakes on your shoulder, eyebrows and nose. The main cause of dandruff is the growth of skin in the oil-producing glands which has a negative reaction on the immune system.
Depending on the severity of dandruff, you need to visit your doctor. You will be prescribed an anti-dandruff or anti-yeast shampoo.
- Dyshidrotic eczema
This type of eczema is quite uncommon and usually comes during the winter. Dyshidrotic eczema creates small red patches or blisters in your feet and hands. These blisters can hurt and itch and create flakes or scales on your skin. It is more common in women than in men.
This type of eczema is uncommon, and your doctor will recommend that you moisturize regularly and can prescribe a topical cream.
- Nummular eczema
The word Nummular means ‘coin shaped’ in Latin, hence this type of eczema causes coin-shaped rashes on your skin, especially on your legs. Like dyshidrotic, this eczema also occurs during the wintertime and is easy to identify due to its unique shape. It is more common among the elderly.
The main cause of nummular eczema is dry skin and the doctor will prescribe a topical cream to help with this condition.
- Stasis dermatitis
Stasis dermatitis occurs when fluid leaks from the veins and into your skin. The fluid causes itchiness, redness and swelling. This type of eczema is more common among the elderly as it occurs due to low blood flow in the legs. The blood flow in the legs can diminish over time and the immune system tries to correct the problem with swelling (varicose veins) and this can create a rash on the inflamed area.
What causes eczema and how can you treat it?
The exact cause of eczema remains unknown but research has shown that it is the result of a combination of genes and environmental triggers. When an external irritant or allergen affects the body, the immune system turns on to fight the germs. This results in inflammation which causes eczema. The most common prescription for most types of eczema is to regularly moisturize and practice good skin care habits. If the eczema is caused by an allergic reaction, you should avoid the substance that triggers the condition.
Eczema affects children more than adults, and with proper treatment, the condition subsides over time. Most eczema does not have a definitive cure but the symptoms can be treated. It is also important to detect any symptoms of eczema early before they get worse. Neuberg Diagnostics offers numerous preventive health checkups to meet your specific needs.