Eczema, also known as Dermatitis, is the name for a group of conditions that cause the skin to become red, itchy and inflamed. It is a non-contagious, inflammatory dry skin condition that can affect people of all ages and vary from very mild to severe.
One type of eczema is atopic dermatitis, which is usually derived from having a family prone to allergy. As most people who have it also suffer from many allergies or their relatives do, atopic eczema is generally considered to be inherited. This type of eczema is present from a very early age, but regularly comes and goes from time to time throughout life.
Another type of eczema, seborrhoeic dermatitis, is often diagnosed wrongly as “dry skin.” However, this type of eczema is not remotely related to dry skin.
It has not been proven yet, but scientists think that seborrhoeic eczema, like atopic eczema, is genetic.
A symptom of seborrhoeic eczema is scaly skin, which is why this eczema is misdiagnosed as dry skin. The scaly skin is present around the ears, nose, eyebrows, scalp and sometimes on the chest.
Seborrhoeic eczema does not seem to be prevalent in early life, but it becomes a problem after puberty, when it comes up regularly. Oddly, people with mental conditions such as Parkinson’s disease seem more prone to seborrhoeic eczema, and it affects men more than women.
Shampoos containing tar, sulphur, selenium or salicylic acid can be used daily to treat seborrhoeic eczema on the head, and hydrocortisone cream for the rest of the skin. In some cases, antibiotics are also prescribed, all of which should make the condition disappear after a very short amount of time.
A type of seborrhoeic eczema that affects infants is often referred to as “cradle cap.” This is harmless and will disappear quickly after diagnosis, which is easy to do due to the thick yellowy patches that appear on the child’s head.
Cradle cap is also common on the neck, face, behind the ears and where nappies sit.
A doctor will prescribe a special shampoo to use on your child, after which the affected area should be massaged and brushed with a soft brush. If the condition doesn’t improve, another trip to the doctor.
Poor blood circulation can cause varicose dermatitis, another type of eczema that is usually due to pregnancy or obesity, or menopause. Varicose eczema usually appears on the lower leg and doesn’t usually appear before mid-life.
Emollients and steroid creams can be used to treat varicose eczema, which is a must, otherwise, the affected skin can break down and form ulcers.
Discoid dermatitis is easily recognized by the small round blotches that appear on the lower leg and arms, which are very itchy and can even weep. This particular type of eczema does not appear to have any particular cause and will usually come about very suddenly, most commonly in elderly men.
Another form of eczema is called contact dermatitis and develops if the skin becomes irritated by toxic chemical exposure as opposed to just allergens.
Contact dermatitis occurs during the first time such a contact is made or after many times. The result is inflammation around the irritated area, which can lead to thick, red and very scaly skin if the exposure was to something very toxic. More commonly, contact dermatitis is irritation by something far less dangerous such as repeated contact with detergent, or even urine or saliva. If this arises, exposure to irritants should be discontinued. If the skin repeatedly comes in contact to toxic substances, contact dermatitis can become very hard to treat.