Eczema is never fun. With the months fast approaching the Eczema Awareness Month in October, what a better time to learn and understand this type of skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide.
You are probably here because you are looking for answers and finding support. At first, you may have noticed a dry, itchy, red spot on your skin, particularly on the chin, cheeks, or chest area. Scratching does not help relieve the itchiness but only made the irritation worse.
When you visited your family doctor, you discovered that you have eczema. So, what is this common skin problem all about, what are your risks, and how can you treat it? We have rounded several important information to help you become more aware of eczema and how you can avoid flare-ups.
What Is Eczema?
Eczema, also known as dermatitis, is the term given to a group of diseases that causes skin inflammation. While it is a common skin problem, it is not an endemic condition. Eczema is either a genetic or inherited condition characterized by chronic dryness and itching. It is characterized by red, itchy, and swollen skin. Inflammation can sometimes cause
It breaks down the barriers that seal and protect the skin. In addition to the external suffering, this skin condition can increase your mental and physical stress levels. A person with eczema is in a constant battle against the dryness and itchiness, which often result in poor sleep. Subconsciously scratching could result in cuts and scars, dragging on your esteem.
Living With Eczema
Living with eczema can dramatically impact the quality of your life, both physically and mentally. Although it is a more common problem in children, this condition affects people of all ages. An Atopic Dermatitis Quality of Life Report released by the Eczema Society of Canada/Société Canadienne de l’eczéma provided a comprehensive look at the effects of eczema on the lives of Canadians. The details of the survey results were based on more than 1000 Canadians (children and adults) living with this condition.
Impacts on Children:
- Seven out of ten children experience sleep disturbance, and one out of five have missed school due to the taxing effects of eczema.
- Thirty percent of the responded claimed they are having difficulty participating in different types of physical activities, and another thirty percent with eczema experienced anxiety due to dry and itchy skin.
- Dealing with a child with eczema has affected 63 percent of the caregivers experiencing physical, emotional, and mental stress.
- It has also resulted in financial challenges. About thirty percent of the families experienced financial burden related to their child’s eczema.
Impacts on Adults:
- Twenty-nine percent of adults have used over fifteen different treatments to manage eczema symptoms.
- One in two individuals reported losing more than eight night of sleep every month.
- One in three reported has missed work or significant life events, while thirty percent have had to leave and change their job.
- Forty-two percent of respondents reported visiting a healthcare professional more than four times in the past two years to manage their condition while twenty-seven percent have waited for a period of six months or longer before consulting a dermatologist.
The report showed that mild to severe eczema could significantly affect an individual’s sleep, social interaction, and work life. Also, the report aims to demonstrate the actual burden associated with the disease, as well as the importance of awareness and self-care.
Symptoms and Treatment for Eczema
Eczema comes in different forms. Each type of dermatitis has its own set of symptoms.
- Atopic Dermatitis (persistent red patches)
This type of atopic dermatitis is more common in children, but eventually gets milder and goes away during adulthood. Doctors refer atopic dermatitis as an atopic triad, meaning a person can experience three conditions, such as atopic dermatitis, asthma, and hay fever.
The risk of atopic dermatitis increases if one of their parents has had it. While this condition tends to be heredity, a parent does not directly pass it to the child; sometimes, it can skip a generation. Also, other immune system problems can trigger eczema.
Symptoms: A rash that appears in the creases of the elbows, knees, face, neck, and wrists; small bumps that ooze clear fluid when scratched. Babies can get red patches on the scalp and cheeks.
Common triggers: Bath soap, detergent, perfumes; animal dander and saliva, house-dust mite droppings; skin infections; changes in temperature or humidity, sweating; wool or synthetic fabrics; household chemicals. Teething can sometimes trigger atopic dermatitis in toddlers.
Treatments: Topical, oral, and injectable prescriptions; ultraviolet (UV) light therapy.
- Contact Dermatitis (itchy redness)
This type of contact dermatitis is characterized by red, irritated skin caused by a reaction to something you touched. Contact dermatitis comes in two different types: allergic contact dermatitis, which is an immune system response to an irritant, such as metal, latex, or poison ivy; and irritant contact dermatitis, characterized by redness on the outermost layer of the skin.
Symptoms: Itchy, red, burning, and stinging skin; fluid-filled blisters that ooze and form crusts; thick, scaly, or leathery skin. Hives can sometimes occur as well.
Common Triggers: Harsh detergents and bleaches; some skin care products; jewelry; paints and solvents; hair dyes; tobacco smoke; weed killers and other chemicals.
Treatments: Prescribed oral or topical steroid medications.
- Seborrheic Dermatitis (dandruff)
This type of eczema usually appears in areas with large numbers of oil glands. The rash can develop in the scalp, folds at the side of the nose, eyebrows, ears, armpits, breasts, groin, and temples. Patches can eventually spread onto the face and neck.
Symptoms: Redness, irritation, and presence of small, white flakes of skin in the hair or on the scalp.
Common Triggers: An overgrowth of typical skin flora; medications, such as interferon, lithium, and psoralen.
Treatments: Over-the-counter anti-yeast shampoos; prescription shampoos.
- Stasis Dermatitis (rash on swollen areas)
Also known as venous eczema, stasis dermatitis is linked with poor circulation and is a more common problem in the elderly. With insufficient blood circulation, fluid can build up in the lower legs, creating pressure and making it difficult for oxygenated blood to reach the skin.
Symptoms: Swelling and formation of crusty rash on the affected area; hot, itchy spots or blisters; dry, scaly skin; cracked skin.
Common Triggers: Ageing; insufficient blood circulation; health conditions such as high blood pressure, varicose veins, frequent pregnancy, history of blood clots, or obesity.
Treatments: Topical creams; compression socks; calcineurin inhibitors to reduce immune system responses that cause redness and itchiness.
- Nummular Eczema (circular patches)
Also called discoid eczema, this type of skin condition is characterized by circular patches, which often develop on the legs during the winter season. While it is more common in the elderly, it can also affect children and adults.
Symptoms: Round, coin-shaped patches on the skin; scaly spots that can be extremely itchy.
Common Triggers: Cold temperatures; bacterial infections; poor blood circulation; dry skin; an allergic reaction to insect bites; metal or formaldehyde sensitivity; certain medications; atopic dermatitis.
Treatments: Topical creams; antihistamines; prescription antibiotics.
When To See A Specialist
Eczema can come (and go) without warning. However, it may return following an initial flare-up. A skin care professional or dermatologist can help you understand what is triggering your condition, how to manage symptoms, and how to avoid what could be behind your eczema flare-ups. With proper treatment, your dermatologist will provide the right treatment plan to keep your skin moisturized and healthy.
Laser Essential and Skin Care clinic in Toronto offers a wide range of cosmetic and medical treatments. For effective scar removal in Toronto, call us at (416) 226-0744 to schedule a free consultation with our skin specialist. We also offer a budget-friendly financial plan to help clients achieve spotless, beautiful, and healthy skin.