Eczema is a group of diseases that causes inflammation or irritation of the skin. Dermatitis is the other name for it. The most common type is atopic dermatitis. It generally refers to a group of medical conditions that lead to other allergic diseases like hay fever and asthma.
Dermatitis occurs in about 10% to 20% of infants and about 3% of children and adults in the U.S. In most of the infants who develop dermatitis, the disease outgrows by their tenth birthday. But in some people, symptoms continue to appear on and off throughout their lives. However the condition can be taken care of with proper treatment.
Dermatitis is always itchy irrespective of the part of the skin it develops. In some cases itching will occur even before the rash appears. The rash appears more commonly on the face, wrists, hands, back of knees or the feet. It can affect other parts of the skin also.
The part of the skin that is affected becomes very dry, thickened and scaly. In case of fair skinned people, the affected areas appear reddish initially and then will turn brown. Whereas in dark skinned people, dermatitis affects pigmentation of the skin making it lighter or even darker.
In infants, the rash appears commonly on the face and scalp but can appear elsewhere as well. The rash in infants shows oozing and crusting effects.
What Causes Eczema?
Exact cause for eczema is not known. But it is considered as a hyper response of the body’s immune system to an allergen. It is because of this response that the symptoms of dermatitis appear. It is a common condition if someone in the family has a history of any other allergies or asthma. Also, defects or damage in the skin barrier may allow moisture out and germs in.
Some may experience flare ups as a response to certain allergens or diseases. For some, the skin becomes itchy after coming in contact with rough materials. While in others the outbreak may occur due to exposure to certain products like soap or detergent commonly used in houses. Even feeling too cold or too hot and coming in contact with animal wastes also leads to this condition. Stress will worsen the condition if it already exists. Common cold or infections of the upper respiratory tract can also cause this condition.
There is no proper cure for dermatitis. However, with proper medical treatment and avoiding contact with irritants, most of the people can manage the condition effectively. It cannot spread from one person to another as it is not contagious.