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Author Topic: Skin Diseases: Eczema  (Read 297 times)

Demisam

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Skin Diseases: Eczema
« on: March 22, 2018, 11:05:57 am »
Eczema
What Is Eczema?

Eczema is a common skin condition marked itchy and inflamed patches of skin. It is also known as atopic dermatitis. It is more common in babies and young children. It occurs on the faces of infants, as well as inside the elbows and behind the knees of children, teenagers, and adults. It is caused by an overactive immune system. Up to 20 percent of children and one to three percent of adults develop atopic dermatitis, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. In rare cases, atopic dermatitis can first appear during puberty or adulthood. It affects males and females equally.

What Are the Types of Eczema?

When people refer to eczema, they usually mean atopic dermatitis, which is the common and chronic type of eczema. Other types include:

Contact dermatitis is caused by contact with irritants. Burning, itching, and redness occur. When the irritant is removed, the inflammation goes away.
Dyshidrotic dermatitis affects fingers, palms of the hand, and soles of the feet. It causes itchy, scaly patches of skin that flake constantly or become red, ****, and painful. The condition is more common in women.
Nummular dermatitis causes dry, round patches of skin in the winter months. It usually affects the leg. It is more common in men.
Seborrheic dermatitis causes itchy, red, scaly rashes, particularly on the scalp, on the eyebrows, on the eyelids, on the sides of the nose, and behind the ears.
What Causes Eczema?

An eczema flare-up is when one or more eczema symptoms appear on the skin. The cause of eczema is not fully understood.

It is thought to be triggered by an overactive immune system that responds aggressively to the presence of irritants.

Eczema is sometimes caused in part by an abnormal response to proteins that are part of the body. Normally, the immune system ignores proteins that are part of the human body and attacks only the proteins of invaders, such as bacteria or viruses. In eczema, the immune system loses the ability to distinguish between the two, which causes inflammation.

Common triggers of eczema flare-ups include:

chemicals found in cleaners and detergents that dry out the skin
rough scratchy material like wool
synthetic fabrics
raised body temperature
sweating
temperature changes
a sudden drop in humidity
Other triggers include stress, food allergies, animal dander, and upper respiratory infections.

What Are the Symptoms of Eczema?

Eczema is characterized by itchy, dry, rough, flakey, inflamed, and irritated skin. It can flare up, subside, and then flare up again. It can occur anywhere but usually affects the arm, inner elbow, back of the knee, or head (particularly the cheeks and the scalp). It is not contagious and becomes less severe with age.

Red or brownish-gray patches are common symptoms. Small, raised bumps that ooze fluid when scratched are another symptom. Scratching causes them to become crusty, which can signal infection. Thickened, scaly skin is another symptom.

Eczema can cause intense itching. Scratching further irritates and inflames the skin. This can cause infections that must be treated with antibiotics.

How Is Eczema Treated?

A dermatologist, allergist, or primary care physician can help you identify the correct treatment for eczema.

Medications

Oral over-the-counter antihistamines may relieve itching. They work by blocking histamine, which triggers allergic reactions. Examples include:

cetirizine (Zyrtec)
diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
fexofendaine (Allegra)
loratidine (Claritin)
Several antihistamines can cause drowsiness and should be taken at night.

Cortisone (steroid) creams and ointments relieve itching and scaling. They should not be used long-term because of side effects including thinning of the skin, irritation, and discoloration.

Low-potency steroids like hydrocortisone are available over the counter. High-potency steroids may help patients who donít respond to low-potency steroids. In severe cases, a doctor may prescribe oral corticosteroids. These can cause serious side effects including bone loss.

If there is an infection, a doctor may prescribe a topical or oral antibiotic.

Immunosuppressants are prescription medications that prevent the immune system from overreacting. This prevents flare-ups of eczema. Side effects include an increased risk of developing cancer, high blood pressure, and kidney disease.

Therapies

Light therapy, or phototherapy, uses ultraviolet light or sunlamps to help prevent immune system responses that trigger eczema. It requires a series of treatments, and can help reduce or clear up eczema, as well as prevent bacterial skin infections.

Lifestyle Changes

Stress can trigger or exacerbate symptoms. Ways to reduce stress include deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, and listening to relaxing music. Prioritizing a good nightís sleep can help lower stress.

A cold compress can help alleviate itching, as can soaking for 15 to 20 minutes in a warm or lukewarm bath.

Alternative Treatments

Alternative treatments may help calm the symptoms of eczema. Because of potential side effects, always check with your primary care physician before using an herbal supplement or beginning an exercise routine. Popular home remedies include:

green, black, or oolong tea
borage oil
primrose oil
acupuncture
aromatherapy
relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided imagery
 

 

 

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