Eczema is a condition related to the skin and it causes the skin to become inflamed. This chronic skin condition is marked by arid skin having patches that become reddish and extremely itchy. The skin patches caused by eczema may ooze, become crusty, scaly or even toughened. The symptoms related to this skin condition are varied and can range from gentle to acute, while the condition itself can have a negative impact on the life of people enduring eczema. It is worth mentioning here that eczema can develop on any place on the skin and this condition can occur on the flexors (the rear side of the knees and also when the arms bend).

There are several different types of eczema, such as atopic eczema, allergic contact dermatitis (ACD), infantile seborrheic eczema, irritant contact dermatitis, adult seborrheic eczema, varicose eczema and discoid eczema. The most common among these is atopic dermatitis. In this case, atopy means an inherent propensity towards conditions like eczema, hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and arthritis. In fact, individuals who usually suffer from eczema have also been found to endure either one or both the other atopic ailments.

Incidentally, neither scientists nor medical practitioners have been able to ascertain the precise reason behind eczema. Nevertheless, it is believed that immunological, genetic as well as specific environmental factors are responsible for this bothersome skin condition. In fact, eczema can develop and even fade away and can also shift from one part of the body to another. Often a new patch develops, soon after an older one clears up. As a result, eczema is considered to be a chronic skin disease. Eczema patients experience a flare-up when their skin cycles return to inflammation. Try Elma products to help ease all above symptoms of this skin problem.

Types of eczema

Atopic eczema

As discussed above, atopic eczema is the most widespread form of this skin condition and it is very intimately associated with asthma and allergic rhinitis (hay fever). This condition may affect children and adults alike and generally runs in families. Itching or pruritus is one of the most common symptoms related to atopic eczema. Often, the itching associated with eczema can turn out to be virtually unbearable. There are several other symptoms associated with this skin condition and they include redness of the skin, parched skin and inflammation. When the patient scratches the affected areas continuously, it usually results in the splitting of the skin, thereby making the area vulnerable to infections. When eczema is infected, it may cause the skin to crack, develop pustules and weep. In such cases, healings include emollients with a view to retain the hydration of the skin as well as use of steroids in order to lessen inflammation.

"Atopic" is a Greek term denoting "strange". On the other hand, the expression "dermatitis" denotes skin inflammation. When an individual is affected by atopic dermatitis, his/ her skin turns out to be intensely itchy as well as inflamed, thereby resulting in swelling, redness, formation of vesicles (tiny blisters), and cracking, scaling, crusting as well as weeping. Eruptions of this kind are known as eczematous. Moreover, dry or extremely dehydrated skin is a general symptom in nearly all people suffering from atopic dermatitis.

While people from any age group may be afflicted by atopic dermatitis, usually infants and small children are most vulnerable to this skin condition. At times, atopic dermatitis may continue till the patient's adulthood or appear for the first time at this stage of their life. In addition, it has been found that a number of patients have a propensity to suffer from a long-drawn-out bout of eczema with ups and downs. In nearly all incidences, people suffer from periods when the disease is at its worst, termed as flares or exacerbations, and this is followed by phases when there is some improvement in the skin condition. During such periods, the skin often clears up completely and this is known as remissions. It has also been found that several children suffering from atopic dermatitis often experience a lasting remission of this skin disease as they grow older. Nevertheless, their skin still may continue to remain slightly dry and become irritated quite easily.

Allergic contact dermatitis (ACD)

An individual may develop allergic contact dermatitis or ACD when his/ her immune system acts in response against any substance that may come in contact with their skin. Usually, such allergic reaction develops over a long period via repeated exposure to the substance. For instance, the person may have allergic reactions when he/ she comes in contact with nickel, a substance commonly present in the snaps of the undershirts of babies, in earrings as well as jean buttons and belt buckles. In addition, they may also experience allergic reactions after coming in contact with a number of other substances like rubber and even perfumes. Hence, the best way to put off development of such repeated allergic reactions is to stay away from substances that you already know result in skin rashes.

Irritant contact dermatitis

When an individual comes into frequent contact with substances that they use every day, for instance chemicals and detergents that cause irritation to the skin, it may result in the development of irritant contact dermatitis. Usually this type of eczema occurs on the hands (especially palms) of adults and it is possible to prevent this condition by staying away from substances that cause skin irritations and, at the same time, by always keeping the skin well moisturized. It is worth mentioning here that this condition mostly occurs to people who are also vulnerable to or already have atopic dermatitis.

Infantile seborrheic eczema

As the name infantile seborrheic eczema implies, this skin condition afflicts infants below the age of one year. As of now, the exact reason for the development of this type of eczema is yet to be ascertained. Infantile seborrheic eczema is also known as cradle cap and generally this skin condition begins of the scalp or the nappy area of the child and spreads rapidly. Infantile seborrheic eczema certainly makes a baby look unattractive, especially the areas affected by the condition, but this skin condition does not cause any pain or itchiness. As a result, the baby does not feel unwell or uncomfortable. In most cases, this variety of eczema clears up just within a few months of its appearance. The healing is accelerated provided you use moisturizing creams as well as bath oils. Using these substances also prevents the condition from spreading.

Adult seborrheic eczema

As the name of this type of eczema implies, it afflicts adults. Generally adult seborrheic eczema first appears on the scalp of the sufferer as dandruff and gradually it tends to develop into redness, which subsequently leads to intense skin irritation as well as severe scaling. Over a period of time, this results in seborrheic eczema. Considering the nature of inflammation of the scalp caused by this type of eczema, the condition soon begins to spread to the neck as well as the facial regions. In fact, the face, especially the temples, are the most affected parts. In addition, this condition also afflicts the folds on the sides of the nose and the sides of the neck. It also afflicts the eyebrows.

The areas infected by adult seborrheic eczema look reddish and they regularly shed tiny white skin flakes. This is a type of eczema that particularly depicts horrible side, particularly when it occurs behind the ears. When this skin condition develops at the back of the ears, it usually has a tendency to afflict a larger area and has a greasy appearance. As a result the scales remain glued to the skin as well as the hair in the region. At the same time, the condition also has a propensity to cause irritation in the internal areas of the ears.

However, it is unfortunate that the precise cause for this type of eczema (adult seborrheic eczema) is yet to be ascertained by researchers and physicians. However, initial findings of a number of detailed studies on the subject have suggested that a specific type of yeast, which is generally called the malassezia furfur or pityrosporum ovale, is often found on the affected skin of most of the people enduring adult seborrheic eczema. While further studies are needed in this regard, it is being presumed that the presence of this yeast plays a vital role in the development of this variety of eczema.

Varicose eczema

As the name of this eczema implies, it afflicts the lower portions of legs of people in the middle to late years. Precisely speaking, varicose eczema is mainly caused by poor circulation. It has been found that varicose eczema usually affects the skin in the region of the ankles. The skin in this area becomes itchy, speckled and also inflamed. Treatment of varicose eczema usually involves using steroid creams and emollients. While emollients help to keep the skin hydrated, use of steroid creams is useful in reducing inflammation. If the condition is neglected and no treatment is initiated, it may result in the breaking of the skin, thereby often causing ulcers.

Discoid eczema

This type of eczema is also referred to by various other terms, such as discoid dermatitis, nummular dermatitis, gravitational eczema and nummular eczema. In fact, discoid eczema is a type of dermatitis that is a recurrent or chronic skin condition. When one develops discoid eczema, first there is a skin rash, which appears in the form of reddish coin-shaped discs. They are called plaques of eczema and have the potential to have a negative impact on several areas of the body. However, usually the hands, forearms and lower legs are affected by these conditions, though the trunks may also be affected occasionally. Discoid eczema is a very uncomfortable and extremely itchy skin condition.

The edges of the oval or spherical eczema plaques, which are comprised of minute elevated red spots as well as scaling on a reddish bases are well defined. Skin areas that are affected by this condition may vary in size greatly - ranging from only a few millimetres to some centimetres.

However, it is fortunate that discoid eczema is not infectious in nature. One cannot develop this condition simply by touching any person affected by the condition or being close to the patient. According to experts, there is no existence whatsoever of any relationship between this skin condition and food allergies. Discoid eczema is absolutely a skin or dermatological condition and it does not affect any other systems of the body. While the infection is general, it is actually secondary and never a causative. However, the bad thing about discoid eczema is that people suffering from this condition are vulnerable to develop any of the other forms of dermatitis discussed above.