Eczema is the name for a group of conditions that cause the skin to become red, itchy, inflamed, and sometimes blister and weep.
Also called dermatitis, it can occur at all ages and affects about 20 percent of the population. It is especially common in children.
Most types cause dry, itchy skin and rashes on the face, inside the elbows and behind the knees, and on the hands and feet. Scratching the skin can cause it to turn red, and to swell and itch even more.
Eczema is not contagious. It may get better or worse over time, but it is often a long-lasting disease. People who have it may also develop hay fever and asthma.
Eczema is mainly treated with emollient and cortisone ointments.
APPOTEK can help you with eczema.
The cause of eczema is unknown. It is likely caused by both genetic and environmental factors. It may be allergic or non-allergic, temporary or recurrent.
What is common to all types of eczema is that the epidermis (superficial layer of the skin) becomes more sensitive and can be easily damaged by dehydration or allergens. This means that the skin’s natural protective barrier is weakened and therefore is not resistant to different factors, for example, infections.
Environmental factors can create greater vulnerability to eczema – you may get eczema if your skin is exposed to irritants, such as strong cleansers, or if you are allergic to nickel or latex, for example.
Genetic factors can also play a role – the risk of getting eczema increases if close relatives have the same problems.
Factors that can cause or worsen eczema:
- allergenic substances such as nickel, chromium, latex, rubber or rosin which can be found in tapes and plasters
- cold or dry climate
- stress and problem sleeping
- infections and various diseases.
Eczema can be located anywhere on the body, for example, on the hands, feet and in skin folds. It is characterized by red and dry skin that can peel and itch. Sometimes small bumps or blisters are formed that can produce fluid and form wounds. If you itch your skin, you may get small wounds that bleed. Eczema can also cause cracks in the skin.
Types of eczema include:
- atopic eczema – the most common form of eczema, is characterized by red, scaly and itchy rash that is most common in small children on the bends of the arms and legs, on cheeks, and is also called “atopic dermatitis” and “infantile eczema”
- contact eczema – is characterized by red and itchy skin with fluid-filled blisters that is caused by allergic reaction on the contact with nickel or latex, for example
- hand eczema – can occur only on your hands and is characterized by red and itchy skin, which is often the result of being damaged by water or cold
- nummular eczema – is characterized by red, itchy and scaly coin-shaped spots that are often located on the arms or legs and are most common in men over 50
- stasis dermatitis – is characterized by an itchy and scaly rash that is most common in older people in connection with varicose veins and leg ulcers
- scalp eczema is caused by fungus and is characterized by red, dry skin that scales and can sometimes itch. It is often located on the scalp or behind the ears, on the eyebrows and chest. Cradle Cap is a type of scalp eczema in infants that is also usually located on the scalp and is characterized by red and dry skin with yellow-brown, oily scales that can sometimes itch.
Red, itchy rashes are not always caused by eczema, but can also occur due to medallion disease, scabies, birthmarks, fungus or as an allergic reaction to some medicines. Other explanations can include hives, heat rash, stress rash, psoriasis or hand, foot, and mouth disease.
Prevention and protection
If you have eczema you can often relieve the symptoms by lubricating the skin with emollient ointment. When the skin is moisturized, it becomes more elastic and is not so easily damaged. If you are allergic, try to avoid substances and situations that trigger your allergy.
In pharmacies there are cortisone ointments that can relieve itching and reduce inflammation. But keep in mind that cortisone should not be used in children under two years without a doctor’s recommendation.
How to alleviate your symptoms:
- lubricate the skin regularly – softening ointments protect sensitive skin
- do not shower and bathe too often – water dries the skin
- try not to itch – it aggravates the symptoms – wounds can cause an infection
- avoid regular soap – preferably use skin oil when showering
- choose unscented laundry detergents
- wash dishes with washing gloves to protect your hands from both water and detergent
- wear skin-friendly materials– wool and synthetic fabrics irritate skin more than cotton, silk and bamboo
- preferably sleep in a cool room – warm in the winter reduces the humidity and can aggravate the problems
Eczema is treated by suppressing the inflammation and making the skin unbroken and elastic again. First and foremost, it is important to avoid dehydrating and allergenic substances that can exacerbate any inflammation. The skin needs to be kept dry and treated with emollient ointment, often in combination with cortisone ointment.
In case of severe eczema, you may need to do an allergy test with blood tests to determine the cause of your complaints. Infected eczema sometimes needs to be analyzed in the laboratory. Different types of eczema require different treatment – you should consult your healthcare provider for help.
When to consult a doctor
If you have severe eczema and non-prescription cortisone ointment does not help, you should get medical attention. If eczema spreads, you should also seek care.
Get urgent medical care if you have suddenly developed eczema in connection with an infection.
How APPOTEK can help
APPOTEK can help you with eczema. In the initial consultation, a nurse or doctor will make an individual assessment based on your symptoms. You may then be prescribed treatment or referred for further examination. If your child is affected, they should also attend the consultation.