What Is Eczema?
Eczema also called atopic dermatitis, is a condition causing the skin to become dry, red, itchy, bumpy, and uncomfortable. This condition is one type of dermatitis, including contact dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff). Dermatitis is a general term for conditions that cause skin inflammation. Dermatitis causes red rashes, dry skin, itchiness, and other symptoms. All forms of dermatitis, including eczema, can be managed by an eczema dermatologists in Boardman, OH.
Eczema is a broad term used to describe skin inflammation. It's a series of chronic skin conditions that produce itchy rashes; scaly, dry, and leathery areas of skin; skin redness; and/or inflammation around blisters. Eczema can occur anywhere on the body but is most commonly found in arm, face, and leg creases. The main symptom of eczema is itchiness and the characteristic eczema rash. Lesions may begin to ooze and form a crust when scratched. Painful cracks in the tissue can form over time.
What Does Eczema Look Like?
Eczema dermatitis damages the skin barrier function or the skin’s connective tissue. This loss of barrier function causes the skin to become sensitive and more prone to infection, dryness, and irritation. Eczema does not harm the body, and the condition is not contagious. The first signs of an eczema breakout are itchiness and redness of the skin. Eczema can develop anywhere on the skin, though with atopic dermatitis in adults and teens, it is commonly found on the hands, neck, inner elbows, knees, feet, ankles, and around the eyes.
Atopic dermatitis in children and babies is common, and as the child grows older, the condition can either get better or go away, but it can persist through adulthood. Eczema can appear anywhere on the body and symptoms vary widely from person to person. Common visible characteristics of eczema may include dry, cracked skin, itchiness, swollen skin, rashes, small raised bumps, and other symptoms.
Leading Types of Eczema
The forms of eczema depend on the trigger and rash location. While there are common symptoms among the different eczema types, such as itchiness, there are also differences between each type of dermatitis. The following comprise the most common types of eczema. Contact Advanced Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center to schedule an appointment.
Atopic dermatitis is the most frequent form of eczema. It's thought to be caused by abnormal functioning of the immune system. Characterized by itchy, inflamed skin, atopic dermatitis tends to run in families. Atopic dermatitis generally has intermittent appearances throughout the person's life.
Contact dermatitis is caused by skin contact with allergens or irritants, such as chemicals. Proper treatment and prevention rely on discovering the trigger, such as cosmetics, fabrics, laundry detergent, and poison ivy.
Dyshidrotic dermatitis affects the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. The skin condition causes clear, deep blisters, highlighted by itching and burning sensations. It occurs the most during the summer months and in warm climates.
Also known as Lichen Simplex Chronicus, neurodermatitis is a chronic skin inflammation. It's caused by a continuous cycle of scratching and itching in response to a localized itch, such as a mosquito bite. Scaly patches of skin usually form on the forearms, head, lower legs, or wrists. The affected skin may become thickened and leathery over time.
Discoid eczema, also known as nummular eczema or discoid dermatitis, is a chronic (long-term) form of dermatitis that causes the skin to become itchy, swollen, and cracked in a circle or oval-shaped patches. The most common feature of discoid eczema is dry skin. It usually appears suddenly on the first occasion with one or more circular patches on the skin.
Stasis dermatitis, also called gravitational dermatitis, venous eczema, and venous stasis dermatitis occurs when there is poor circulation in the lower legs. As fluid and pressure build in the veins, a portion of blood leaks into the skin. This condition is more common in people 50 years of age or older. Swelling around the ankles is often the first sign of stasis dermatitis.
Eczema Vs Psoriasis
Both eczema and psoriasis are common skin conditions that produce rashes or patches of red, raised, itchy skin. Additionally, psoriasis and eczema lesions can appear on the same places of the body, such as the hands and scalp. Neither condition is contagious, meaning they cannot be transmitted to others in any way, yet conditions can result in skin infections. An experienced Boardman dermatologist, such as those with Advanced Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center, can identify the differences between the two conditions, but to the untrained eye, it can be difficult to distinguish between eczema and psoriasis.
Among the most important differences between eczema and psoriasis is the underlying cause. Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition, which means the dysfunctions of the immune system cause the skin cells to accumulate on top of the skin, forming a white scale. If you suspect you have eczema, psoriasis, or another skin condition, contact our dermatologist office today to book an appointment for diagnosis and treatment.
What Causes Eczema?
Unlike common skin conditions with a clear, known cause, eczema causes can be more complex and difficult to identify. Eczema is generally caused by a combination of immune system factors, genetics, environmental triggers, and stress, though other factors may play a role in the development and triggering of this condition.
- Immune System. If a person has eczema, their immune system can overreact to minor irritants, allergens, or certain types of eczema triggers, resulting in an inflamed reaction in the skin.
- Genetic Factors. Individuals may be more likely to develop eczema if there is a history of dermatitis in their family. They may also be at a higher risk of allergies, asthma, and/or hay fever.
- Environment & Pollution. Several environmental factors, such as tobacco smoke, airborne pollutants, harsh soaps, and irritating fabrics, can irritate the skin and result in an eczema outbreak. High humidity and heat can also result in an outbreak.
- Stress Levels. Those who experience high levels of stress may develop eczema and suffer from more severe eczema outbreaks. Mental and emotional signs of stress may include depression, difficulty relaxing, anxiety, low self-esteem, use of alcohol and drugs, difficulty with concentration, feelings of overwhelm, and irritability.
Eczema and its symptoms can vary. Each person’s skincare routine will likewise impact their affected areas of skin differently. Types of eczema and dermatitis may appear in affected areas of the body at different times. Eczema symptoms typically include itchy skin, ranging from mild to moderate in severity. For others, the itching can become so severe that it causes the person to scratch until their skin bleeds. Common symptoms of eczema may include the following.
- Dry, cracked skin
- Itchy skin
- Red, inflamed skin
- Rashes and bumps
- Scaly, leathery skin patches
- Crusting and oozing skin
- Swelling of the skin
- Thickened skin patches
- Darkening of the skin
- Raw, sensitive skin from scratching
Who Can Develop Eczema?
Atopic dermatitis often begins before age five and may continue into a person’s teenage and adult years. For some individuals, eczema flares up and clears for a time, even for several years, before returning. Eczema is thought to be hereditary but isn't contagious. The specific cause of eczema remains unknown but is usually caused by physical, environmental, and/or lifestyle triggers. When a person comes into contact with a trigger, such as wind or an allergy-producing fabric, a rash and inflammation appear. Although it's possible to develop eczema once, most cases are chronic, characterized by intermittent flare-ups throughout a person’s life.
How Is Eczema Diagnosed?
Eczema can be a lifelong condition, however, symptoms can be managed with certain at-home remedies and over-the-counter products, as well as prescription medications. During your appointment with one of our dermatologists, your provider will inspect your skin closely. They will look for classic signs of atopic dermatitis, such as redness and dryness, among other common symptoms. They will also ask about your symptoms. In most cases, dermatologists can reach an eczema diagnosis based on the results of a skin examination. In some cases, your provider may perform a skin allergy test, a blood test, or a skin biopsy to rule out any other suspected conditions or to distinguish one form of dermatitis from another.
Eczema Treatment In Boardman, OH
Identifying an effective eczema treatment can be difficult, particularly if the cause of the condition isn’t controllable, such as a genetic predisposition. Fortunately, you may be able to control your environment and stress levels. Figuring out what triggers or worsens your eczema and then avoiding these is key to controlling your eczema breakouts. The primary goal of treatment for eczema is to reduce itching and discomfort and to prevent infection and additional breakouts or flare-ups.
Over-the-counter topical eczema cream and antihistamines can be effective for mild eczema. Stronger medications, such as steroid creams and oral medication for eczema, such as oral steroids, are usually prescribed for patients with persistent eczema. Antibiotics and/or anti-fungal creams can treat potential infections. Identifying and removing a trigger is the best prevention. It's recommended to use mild cleansers for the skin and to keep it well-moisturized at all times. Try to avoid scratching, which can cause infection, and sweat-inducing situations.
How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Eczema?
There is no cure for eczema. However, undergoing dermatology treatments for your eczema, identifying and staying away from your eczema triggers, and taking certain steps to help prevent eczema outbreaks can reduce your symptoms and prevent further outbreaks. The following steps can help you prevent eczema outbreaks:
- Follow your dermatologist’s recommendations for keeping your skin healthy, including a dermatologist-recommended skincare routine.
- Wear gloves when you have to submerge your hands in water.
- Use mild soap while bathing or showering, and pat your skin dry afterward.
- Apply a moisturizing cream or ointment immediately after drying your skin.
- Reapply cream or ointment to your skin throughout the day.
- Use lukewarm or tepid water, rather than hot water, in your baths and showers.
- Ensure your hydration by drinking at least eight glasses of water each day.
- Try to avoid becoming overheated and sweating excessively.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes made from natural materials, such as cotton.
- Avoid exposing your skin to sudden changes in temperature and humidity.
- Learn how to recognize signs of stress and pursue effective methods for managing it.
- Exercise regularly, take part in hobbies, and practice stress-management techniques.
- Avoid all known irritants and allergens.
- Avoid scratching or rubbing any areas of the skin that feel itchy.