Eczema is a general term for any type of skin dermatitis. Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition causing red dry scaly patches of irritation and often itchiness.
Symptoms of Eczema on the skin?
Eczema can appear anywhere but most commonly appears on the face, backs of knees, hands, wrists and feet.
Symptoms of eczema include
• Dry thick and scaly
• Red and inflamed
• Itchiness and heat
• In severe cases where infection occurs, or with infant cradle cap, oozing may appear.
What are the causes of eczema dermatitis on the skin?
A predisposition of eczema is inherited. There is a gene that is required for the body to repair damaged skin. People suffering from eczema have a mutation of this gene which interferes with the skin’s ability to repair its barrier. Often people with asthma, hayfever, and other allergens are more likely to develop eczema. Heat, low immunity or contact with irritants can bring on a flare up.
Who does eczema affect?
Because the eczema gene is indeed inherited, we can look to family blood lines to see the likelihood of developing the condition. Any person predisposed to eczema may be any gender or age when they develop any of the different types. In saying that, evidence points out that infants and females have eczema more than men.
Face and head types of eczema:
Atopic eczema (or Atopic Dermatitis) Atopic eczema is the most common and severe form of eczema.
Contact dermatitis: This form of eczema is a result of the skin coming into contact with a particular substance or material. The substance or material triggers an immune response which will cause a flareup. Common causes are nickel, fragrances, detergents, wool, grass, household cleaning products, and citruses.
Eye lid dermatitis: Is a sub category of contact dermatitis. Eye lid dermatitis mostly affects women with from the use of makeup, hair products, perfume and preservatives.
Infantile seborrheic eczema: (Known as cradle cap) Mostly only affects babies up to 1 year old. Usually on the scalp and face. Often presents as a thick crust or weepy. Usually no itch or irritation is felt by the child.
Adult Seborrheic eczema: This form of eczema affects most people aged 20-40years of age. It usually appears on the scalp like mild dandruff, but can spread to the ears, face and chest. It has been suggested that this form of eczema form is due to a yeast growth.
Perioral Dermatitis: Is a facial rash that occurs around the mouth. It is red and either scaly or bumpy. It is most common in women. The most common causes are overuse of topical steroid creams or inhaled sprays into the nose or mouth. The other most common causes are over use of heavy moisturisers and sensitivity to fluoride toothpastes. Treatment for perioral dermatitis is oral antibiotics for 3-12 weeks decreasing the dosage. Topical antibiotics may also clear it up faster. Basic and benign products are recommended until the skin has cleared up. Upon constant return, perioral dermatitis can turn into Rosacea.
Solutions and treatments to treat eczema
- Eczema cannot be cured. It can be managed though, minimising symptoms and keeping them at bay.
- Keeping the skin’s barrier moisturised constantly helps reduce flare ups.
- Using soap free washes, detergents and shampoos.
- Dont scratch. It may be incredibly itchy, but the eczema/dermatitis can’t heal if you scratch, and the skin will produce more anti-inflammatory chemicals feeding the cycle of itch.
- Wearing clothing that is soft and made of natural material such as bamboo and cotton.
- A well balanced diet high in essential fatty acids including:
Nuts, Coconut Oil, Avocado, Oily fish- especially salmon
- Avoiding foods, materials, chemicals and substances that are known allergens.
Depending on the type of eczema and the severity, medicated treatments may include:
o Corticosteroids, topical or oral
o Phytotherapy (UVA or UVB)
o Topical coal tar products
o Oral anti-inflammatory medication
o Antibiotics oral and topical (perioral dermatitis)