Eczema

What is Eczema?

Eczema, a chronic skin disorder, is an inflammatory response on the skin that forms as flaky, red patches. Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema forms on the epidermis (outermost layer of skin) as dry, scaly and itchy patches up to an irritating blistery rash. In some cases, the skin becomes so inflamed and dry, that it cracks and bleeds, especially if the eczema is in the inside of the elbows or backs of the knees, knuckles and palm of hands. In severe cases, eczema can even ooze.

Many factors can trigger eczema. Allergic irritations, detergents, soaps and household cleaning products are just a few of the items that can cause a negative reaction on the skin, leaving it discolored and raised due to the inflammation.

 Because eczema is associated with allergies, such as hay fever and/or asthma, it lowers the skin's immunity and triggers flare-ups common with allergens. Dust mites, animal dander, mold, mildew and pollen are also reasons for skin reactions. Certain food allergies can also be culprits for eczema, causing skin reactions and/or flare-ups.

Other situations, such as reactions to medication, exposure to extreme weather conditions, and health conditions and stress, can also cause eczema to form. Genetics and sensitivity are roles in the development of eczema. Any sort of concern or condition that worsens must be addressed by a doctor. Doing so should determine what’s causing the condition and then establishing a care plan to remedy the condition.

Eczema is quite common and occurs more frequently than one would consider. It can occur at any age and anywhere on the body. Though it’s more common in younger children and babies, it can still affect adults and the elderly.

It’s common to mistakenly assume that eczema and psoriasis are the same. Though they can resemble one another, they’re completely different. Psoriasis, a chronic disease, is an autoimmune disorder that affects the skin with large or small scaly patches raised above the skin. Psoriasis, which becomes itchy and inflamed, is triggered by internal factors associated with the disease. Eczema, though it can be a hereditary allergy issue, can form even if there are no health concerns or history. Eczema, just like psoriasis, can form on various parts of the body, but usually where there has been some sort of exposure to a certain allergen. A perfect example of an allergic eczema flare-up would be dermatitis. This is a contact reaction on the skin that forms the patchy, dry rashes. The best way to determine whether, in fact, it’s eczema is to consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis.

It’s fairly easy to treat and prevent eczema. If an allergy test yields triggers, avoid them to avoid a flare-up. Topical cream and moisturizers, containing such ingredients as hydrocortisone and antihistamines, can help alleviate itching and irritation. Use an emollient-based cream that retains the skin’s moisture levels to prevent TEWL (transepidermal water loss) and assist with flaking. Proper hydration internally will also eliminate future outbreaks. Avoid harsh detergents and soaps; a gentle cleansing product with nourishing ingredients is best for cleansing.

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