Eczema is a form of dermatitis, which is inflammation of the upper layers of the skin. People often use the term eczema for a wide variety of persistent or recurring skin rashes characterized by redness, itching and dryness. This includes possible crusting, flaking, blistering, cracking, oozing or bleeding. Areas of temporary skin discoloration sometimes characterize healed lesions, though scarring is rare.
Common Types of Eczema
Atopic eczema (aka infantile e., flexural e., atopic dermatitis) is believed to have a hereditary component, and often runs in families whose members also have hay fever and asthma. Itchy rash is particularly noticeable on face and scalp, neck, hands, inside of elbows, behind knees, and buttocks. It is a very common condition in all developed countries, and continually rising.
There are two types of Contact dermatitis: allergic (resulting from a delayed reaction to some allergen, such as poison ivy or nickel), and irritant (resulting from direct reaction to, say, a solvent). Some substances act both as allergen and irritant (e.g. wet cement). Other substances cause a problem after sunlight exposure, bringing on phototoxic dermatitis. The irritant type, which is the most common occupational skin disease, makes up for about three quarters of cases of contact eczema.. Contact eczema is curable provided the substance causing it can be avoided, and its traces removed from the environment.
Xerotic eczema (also known as asteatotic eczema, eczema craquele or craquelatum, winter itch, pruritus hiemalis) is dry, cracked skin that becomes so serious it turns into eczema. It often worsens in dry winter weather, and the limbs and torso are most often affected. This disorder is very common among the elderly. Ichthyosis is a related disorder.
Seborrhoeic dermatitis (also known as cradle cap in infants) causes dry or greasy scaling of the scalp and eyebrows. Scaly pimples and red patches sometimes appear in various adjacent places. In newborns it causes a thick, yellow crusty scalp rash called cradle cap which seems related to lack of biotin, and is often curable.
Less common eczemas
Dyshidrosis (also known as dyshidrotic e., pompholyx, vesicular palmoplantar dermatitis, housewifeis eczema) only occurs on palms, soles, and sides of fingers and toes. Tiny opaque bumps called vesicles, thickening, and cracks are accompanied by itching which gets worse at night. A common type of hand eczema, it gets worse in warm weather. Discoid eczema (also known as nummular e., exudative e., microbial e.) is characterized by round spots of oozing or dry rash, with clear boundaries, often on lower legs. It is usually worse in winter. The cause is unknown, and it tends to come and go.
Venous eczema (also known as gravitational e., stasis dermatitis, varicose e.) occurs in people with impaired circulation, varicose veins and edema, and is particularly common in the ankle area of people over 50. There is redness, scaling, darkening of the skin and itching. The disorder predisposes to leg ulcers.
Dermatitis herpetiformis (also known as Duhringis Disease) causes intensely itchy and typically symmetrical rash on arms, thighs, knees, and back. It is directly related to celiac disease, and can often be put into remission with appropriate diet.
Neurodermatitis (also known as lichen simplex chronicus, localized scratch dermatitis) is an itchy area of thickened, pigmented eczema patch that results from habitual rubbing and scratching. Usually there is only one spot and it is often curable through behavior modification and anti-inflammatory medication. Prurigo nodularis is a related disorder showing multiple lumps.Autoeczematization (also known as id reaction, autosensitization) is an eczematous reaction to an infection with parasites, fungi, bacteria or viruses. It is completely curable with the clearance of the original infection that caused it. The appearance varies depending on the cause and it always occurs away from the original infection.
Eczema diagnosis is generally based on the appearance of inflamed, itchy skin in eczema sensitive areas such as face, chest and other skin crease areas. To determine whether an eczema flare is the result of an allergen, a doctor may test the blood for the levels of antibodies and the numbers of certain types of cells. In the test, blood is mixed separately with many different allergens and the antibody levels measured. High levels of antibodies in the blood signify an allergy to that substance.
Another test for eczema is skin patch testing. The suspected irritant is applied to the skin and held in place with an adhesive patch. Another patch with nothing is also applied as a control. After 24 to 48 hours, the patch is removed. If the skin under the suspect patch is red and swollen, the result is positive and the person is probably allergic to that substance. Occasionally, the diagnosis may also involve a skin biopsy: removal of a small piece of affected skin for microscopic examination in a pathology laboratory. Blood tests and biopsies are not always necessary for eczema diagnosis. However, doctors will at times require them if the symptoms are unusual, severe or in order to identify particular triggers.
Eczema severely dries out the skin, and keeping the affected area moistened can promote healing and retain natural moisture. This is the most important self-care treatment that one can use in atopic eczema. Anything that may dry out the skin should be avoided, including normal soaps and bubble baths that remove the natural oils from the skin.
Below is a list of products that all contain natural ingredients that treat eczema.
- Health From The Sun Black Current 1000*
- Health From The Sun Borage Oil 300*
- Jarrow Formulas Coconut Oil (100% Organic)*
- New Chapter Supercritical Omega 7*
- Aubrey Organics Mandarin Magic Ginkgo Leaf & Ginseng Root Hair Moisturizing Jelly*
- Shikai Borage Dry Skin Therapy Lotion*
- Resting In The River Healing Body Butter*
- Outer Body Experience Milk Bath – Oats And Honey