Eczema, also called dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition that makes the skin red, itchy, dry, and cracked. Flare-ups can occur on any part of the body. There are various kinds of eczema, and the affliction differs from person to person.
Is eczema contagious?
A person cannot get eczema from interacting with another person who has it. You cannot get dermatitis from a public bathroom or a swimming pool. Atopic eczema is hereditary. Some parents pass on the gene for atopic eczema without ever having this skin problem.
What causes eczema?
Healthy skin is a type of wall that protects our body from the harmful effects of the environment. If you suffer from eczema, your skin lipids break down, reducing your skin’s protective barrier. The skin dries and becomes vulnerable to external irritants and allergens.
Your chance of developing eczema depends on both genetic factors and external circumstances. Most people who suffer from this condition have a family history of allergies. Dermatitis flare-ups occur when the immune system responds to remote triggers that can penetrate the skin.
The physical reaction to certain foods, textiles, or animals often triggers atopic eczema flare-ups. Other known triggers are stress, smoking, sweating, pollen, and cold or dry weather conditions.
Skin contact with a particular substance causes contact eczema. It can be a substance that damages the skin or something that triggers the immune system to react in a way that affects the skin. Irritants include detergents, machine oil, soil, cement powder, plants, and even water.
How do you cure eczema?
Remedy depends on the severity of the symptoms. Clinical tools are available that assist doctors in assessing the severity and extent of eczema. Mild to moderate dermatitis improves with products that moisturize the skin and those containing mild steroids.
Emollients. These come in the form of creams, lotions, and ointments. Apply to keep the skin moist and soft. There are also emollient substitutes for soaps, bath oils, and shower gels that irritate and dry out the skin.
Emollients are only useful on the surface of the skin and don’t tackle the underlying inflammation.
Topical Steroids. When flare-ups become inflamed and itchy, dermatologists often prescribe products containing topical steroids. Steroids are effective in reducing inflammation but do not tackle the underlying cause of eczema flare-ups. They can also dehydrate the skin, and carry a high risk of side effects.
Topical steroids can cause sensitivity to sunlight, stretch marks, and eczema relapses. Therefore, they are only good for short-term control of flare-ups.
Phototherapy. Also called light therapy, it is the treatment of skin conditions with a particular type of light. The most popular kind of phototherapy used to treat eczema is narrowband ultraviolet B (UVB) light. It uses a specific machine to emit UVB light, which is the best part of natural sunlight for treating eczema.