Eczema is term for a group of medical conditions that cause the skin to become inflamed or irritated. The most common type of eczema is known as atopic dermatitis, or atopic eczema. Atopic refers to a group of diseases with an often inherited tendency to develop other allergic conditions, such as asthma and hay fever.
Eczema affects about 10% to 20% of infants and about 3% of adults and children in the U.S. Most infants who develop the condition outgrow it by the time they are ten. While some people continue to experience symptoms throughout their life, with proper treatment the disease can be controlled in majority of people.
The main symptom of eczema is itchiness. At times, itching can start even before the rash appears. People with fair skin sometimes get red patches which then turn brown. Eczema can affect pigmentation amongst darker skinned people, thus making the skin affected either lighter or darker. The itchy rashes can produce an oozing, crusting condition that occurs mainly on the face and scalp, but patches may appear anywhere.
The cause of this skin disease is not known, but it is linked to the overworking of the immune system to what may be an irritant. This response tends to cause eczema. Eczema is also linked to a history of allergies and asthma.
Some common triggers are food, environmental factors, man made things or personal things. Some foods which tend to trigger eczema like eggs, alcohol, nuts, wheat, food additives, etc. Environmental factors could be dust, tress, pollen, etc. Detergents and household cleaners, perfumed soaps, bubble baths are the man made items that can trigger this skin disease. Psychological stresses in a person’s life can also lead to eczema.
Eczema is a very individual condition. What triggers one person’s eczema may have no impact at all on another person having eczema. Similarly, what decreases the severity of the eczema will vary from person to person. It is this individuality of the condition that makes it impossible to find a total cure. Thus each patient must chart out a special and unique course of action with the help and supervision of their doctor. Some remedies and medicines work for one patient while the same won`t work for others.
Since this is a skin disease that severely affects a person appearance, the patient might undergo social withdrawal, get depressed and have low self esteem. It is very important that the patients have emotional support and even psychological help if needed.