Eczema is a clinical condition where patches of skin become inflamed, itchy, red, rough, and cracked. Blisters may also occur. It affects a larger section of the American population. Atopic eczema (atopic dermatitis) is the most common form of eczema.
Eczema causes the skin becomes itchy, dry, cracked, sore and red. Some people have only small patches of the dry skin, but others may experience widespread red, inflamed skin all parts of the body.
Eczema can affect any component of the body, it most often affects the hands, insides the elbows, backs of the knees, the face and the scalp in children.
Sometimes inflamed areas of skin may infect. Inflamed skin is itchy. If you scratch a lot it may cause patches of skin to become thickened. The inflamed areas of skin become blistered and weepy.
Causes of atopic eczema
The cause is not known. In people with atopic eczema, the lipid barrier of the skin tends to be reduced. This leads to an increase in water loss and a tendency to dry skin. Some cells of the immune system also release chemicals under the skin surface, which causes some inflammation. But it is not proven why these things occur. Genetic factors play a role part. Atopic eczema occurs in near about 8 in 10 children where both parents have the same condition and in about 6 in 10 children where one parent has.
Atopic eczema is becoming more common. There is not proven single cause for this but several factors may play a part include:
• Climate Changes.
• Allergies to house dust mite or pollens.
Diagnosis is predicated primarily on the patient’s symptoms, but medical history is also paramount.
Physicians will often ask about family history, other diseases such as asthma and hay pyrexia, possible exposure to irritants, whether any foods are cognate to flare-ups, sleep disturbances, any past treatment for skin symptoms, and use of steroids or other medications.
Physicians may refer a patient to the dermatologist for further evaluation.
The dermatologist may attempt to rule out other conditions that can cause skin irritation. This may involve the following tests:
- Patch testing -test for skin allergies
- Skin prick testing – test for allergies that do not indispensably occur on the skin, such as pollen
- Supervised food challenges -introduced into the diet to determine whether a food allergy is present
Treatment for Atopic Eczema
Treatment for atopic eczema can help to relieve symptoms and in many cases improve over time.
Many different treatments can be used to control symptoms and manage eczema, including:
• Self care-avoiding irritants such as reducing scratching and avoiding triggers.
• Moisturizers – used every day for dry to help prevent inflammation developing.
• Steroid creams and ointments (topical creams or ointment) – used only when inflammation flares up that reduced inflammation & swelling
They’re available in four different potencies of steroid, known as mild, moderate, potent, and very potent.
Mild, such as hydrocortisone, may often be bought over the counter from pharmacies, while stronger types of steroids are only available on prescription.