Reddish spots, itching and wounds: know what is eczema, a skin problem with several causes and that has no cure, but that can be treated and prevented.
Eczema is an inflammation of the skin that causes red spots, blisters and itching, resulting in coarse-looking lesions. This problem has no cure, but it is possible to have good control of the disease. For this, however, it is necessary to better understand what eczema is and how it develops, suggests dermatologist in Rajouri Garden.
Also called dermatitis, eczema is more common in childhood, affecting 20% of children at some point in life. However, symptoms tend to be more severe when they appear in adults – even though the prevalence of the problem is about 4% in this population.
The appearance of damaged skin can lead to social damage due to fear of contamination – an effect felt even more significantly by children. However, eczema is not a contagious disease, so it cannot be spread from one person to another, explains skin specialist in Rajouri Garden.
Symptoms of eczema
The symptoms of eczema vary according to the type of the disease and the stage it is in (acute or chronic), and may appear and disappear periodically or last for long periods of time. Know the main ones:
- Reddish spots;
- Swollen and inflamed skin;
- Very intense itching;
- Water bubbles;
- Flaking of the skin and scalp (dandruff);
- Cracks due to dryness;
- Rough and thicker skin;
- Wounds or ulcers;
- Increased sensitivity to hygiene and cleaning products.
Depending on the type of eczema, symptoms can affect any part of the body, reappearing in different regions with each crisis. It is important to remember that the patient does not need to present all of them to characterize the problem.
Causes of eczema
The symptoms of eczema arise from damage to the corneal layer, which is on the surface of the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin) and is our first protective barrier against the entry of disease-causing microorganisms, says dermatologist in Shastri Nagar.
Because it is the most exposed, the horny layer is constantly suffering from environmental aggressions, such as the sun, wind, cold and scratches. In healthy skin, this layer is always renewing itself, with the replacement of old and damaged cells with new and functional cells, so that protection is maintained.
However, in people with eczema, this cell renewal process is hindered by inflammation, which can happen for several reasons. The causes are not fully explained, but it is possible to highlight some of the most common:
- Genetic factors: such as the mutation of a gene that reduces the production of proteins important for the maintenance of the corneal layer;
- Dry skin: insufficient oil production due to genetics or others favors eczema;
- Predisposition to allergies: although eczema is not an allergic reaction, hypersensitivity of the immune system can contribute to the problem;
- Disorders of the immune system: flu, colds, nutritional deficiency, stress, inappropriate use of medicines, etc. may favor inflammatory responses to skin microorganisms;
- Contact irritation: when the skin is affected by certain substances that cause irritation or allergy.
Eczema: a set of diseases
When talking about eczema, we are not referring to a single disease, but to a set of problems of an inflammatory nature. According to skin specialist in Shastri Nagar, there are at least six pathologies considered eczema, which can vary according to their causes, symptoms and locations of the affected body:
1. Atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis
It is the most common type of eczema and is related to allergies such as rhinitis and asthma. It usually arises from the second month of life onwards and manifests itself mainly in the face and in the folds of the arms and legs, with intense itching being the most prominent symptom.
The condition can be aroused or aggravated by elements such as emotional tensions, climate changes, domestic allergens (mites, fungi, animal hair, etc.), wool clothing, among others.
2. Contact eczema or contact dermatitis>
It arises when the patient comes into contact with materials or products capable of causing skin irritations or allergies, which especially affect hands, feet, neck and face.
Some of the most frequent triggers are hair dye, nail polish, nail polish remover, aftershave lotion, fragrance hygiene items, nickel, some plants (poison ivy, mango peels etc.), rubber and latex (gloves, condoms, balloons, etc.) and insect repellents.
This type of eczema is common in groups such as healthcare professionals, who often wash their hands with bactericidal soap and gel alcohol, and cleaning professionals, who constantly deal with abrasive products.
3. Nummular eczema or nummular dermatitis
Of unknown cause, this type of eczema is characterized by coin-shaped patches, which have crusts and bubbles and can be distributed throughout the body.
Nummular eczema is more common in middle-aged and elderly people, especially those who have dry skin.
4. Stasis eczema or stasis dermatitis
It is the inflammation of the skin located in the lower legs as a result of poor circulation, which compromises the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the tissue. It usually occurs in people who have varicose veins and suffer from lower limb swelling.
5. Dyshidrotic eczema or dyshidrosis
It is characterized by the appearance of red and liquid-filled bubbles on the palms of the hands, on the sides of the fingers or on the soles of the feet.
This type of eczema is more frequent in adolescents and young adults and is usually caused by mycosis, emotional tension and contact dermatitis, among other factors.
6. Exfoliative eczema or exfoliative dermatitis
It is a severe inflammation that brings risks to the patient’s life because it causes redness, cracks and flaking of the entire surface of the skin, causing it to come off in large scales. It can also cause hair and nails to come off the body.
Although the cause is mostly unknown, this type of eczema can be caused by some medications (such as antibiotics and barbiturates) or it can appear as a complication of other skin diseases, lymphomas and leukemias.
Treatment of eczema
The treatment of eczema is done according to the type of the disease, offering good control for symptoms. Medicines should be indicated by a dermatologist in Delhi and may include moisturizing or urea-based ointments, antiseptics for wounds, topical corticosteroids, oral antihistamines, among others.
In the case of atopic or contact eczema, treatment and prevention also include measures to avoid exposure to allergens, materials and products known to cause symptoms.
Knowing what eczema is and how it manifests is essential to be able to recognize its symptoms and seek medical attention. Although there is no cure, it is possible to have a good quality of life by following specific guidelines for each case.