With symptoms that include dryness, itchiness, and inflammation, eczema comes in a variety of different forms and affects over 30 million people in America. Dermatitis is a medical term for inflammation that affects the skin, and the term is sometimes used interchangeably with eczema. While eczema is often found in children, it can also affect adults. In children, it appears in the folds behind the knees and elbows. Different forms of eczema affect people in different ways.
Often contracted in infancy, atopic dermatitis (AD) is characterized by dry, itchy patches of skin. It is also called atopic eczema. The itch can be so severe that it keeps children from getting sleep, and scratching the affected areas can lead to an infection. To relieve the itch, infants may rub against bedding or carpet. Patches may appear on the face or scalp, especially the cheeks. The condition can be long-lasting, and it can also affect adults. Those who have a family history of hay fever, allergies, or AD are more susceptible. Fortunately, the symptoms can be alleviated with moisturizer and proper skin care.
Over time, scratching can lead to a thickening and reddening of the skin in affected areas. Abrasive clothing, household cleaning solutions, and soap can also contribute to skin dryness and a worsening of symptoms. Allergy triggers like dust mites can also trigger an outbreak.
Dyshidrotic eczema (DE) is also characterized by itchy, dry skin. People with DE develop small, painful blisters on their hands and sometimes on their feet. While the blisters clear after two or three weeks, they leave the skin dry, cracked, and red. Flare-ups of DE can be mild or severe, and there is no cure. The blisters make it difficult to perform daily tasks with hands, particularly tasks involving water like washing dishes. Hands being wet for a long time, hot weather, and stress can trigger outbreaks. Other names for DE include vesicular palmoplantar eczema, pompholyx, and dyshidrotic dermatitis.
Nummular dermatitis is known for its disc or coin-shaped red patches. The marks can appear on the lower arms and legs, and it tends to occur after exposure to arid, cold air or chemicals. Exposure to metals like nickel can also be a factor. More men than women are affected, though the condition affects the sexes at different ages. Women may have their fist outbreak in their teens, but men generally don’t experience symptoms until their mid-50s. Protecting and moisturizing skin can help to minimize discomfort. Steroid ointments and antibiotics may also become necessary.
This variety of eczema is the result of an itch that the patient may not be aware of scratching. Sometimes triggered by stress, the itch continues after the end of any apparent cause, and the patient may even scratch in their sleep. Commonly affected areas include the neck, back, scalp, ears, wrists, ankles, and genitals. Unlike most other forms of eczema, neurodermatitis normally doesn’t spread. Rather, the area of skin that is frequently scratched becomes red, thick, deeply wrinkled, and prone to infection. The most important and difficult step in treatment is getting the person to stop scratching. Steroids may be applied topically or taken orally if necessary.
Irritants or allergies can cause contact dermatitis. Allergic contact dermatitis essentially an allergic reaction like a response to contacting poison ivy. Latex gloves, jewelry, makeup, and nickel may cause rashes and irritation. Irritants like caustic and toxic substances can also cause a reaction. While irritants may not prompt an allergic reaction, they can prompt rashes, dryness, and discomfort. One example would be babies with diaper rashes. Dishwashers whose hands are submerged under water for long periods can experience dry and cracked hands.
Stasis dermatitis occurs in the lower legs of people with poor circulation. Also called venous stasis dermatitis, venous eczema, and gravitational dermatitis, the condition starts with swelling around the ankles, skin discoloration, and varicose veins. Xerotic eczema, also known as “winter itch,” is common in the elderly and characterized by dry, cracked, and itchy skin. With bumpy, pimple-like irritation, xerotic eczema can become inflamed after shaving.
People with mild and moderate cases of eczema can sometimes control outbreaks by frequently applying moisturizer and avoiding hot showers or other circumstances that lead to dry skin. When there are signs of infection or the inflammation does not subside after a few days, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment. A dermatologist can look at your symptoms, and they can assess the severity of a case of eczema.
There is no blood test, but a couple of diagnostic tools allow the doctor to rate whether you are dealing with a mild or moderate case. The Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI) is an assessment that looks at the severity of symptoms and how far they have spread. The system divides the body into four main regions: head, torso, arms, and legs. EASI does not assess the level of scaling or dryness. Another tool for assessing eczema symptoms is called SCORAD (SCORing Atopic Dermatitis), which places more emphasis on the appearance of rashes and symptoms like weeping sores.
Call The Dermatology Clinic to meet with a dermatologist who can assess your eczema symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment options. We provide treatment for a variety of dermatological conditions at our clinic, and we are eager to help you look and feel like the best version of yourself. Schedule an appointment.