15 million people in the United States experience some form of eczema. It is normal in adults and children, but more often appears on babies. Those likely to have eczema have a family history of the condition. But what is this skin condition? And what types of eczema do doctors diagnose?
What is eczema?
Eczema is the general term for rash-like skin conditions. Eczema is usually itchy and the skin becomes red and inflamed when scratched. Atopic dermatitis, an allergic reaction, is the most common type. Many people diagnosed with eczema also suffer from allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and asthma, or have family members with similar problems.
Types of eczema
The six common kinds of eczema are:
Atopic eczema - This is the most common type of eczema. It tends to run in families. Atopic dermatitis often affects those with a family history of allergies.
Allergy - When someone is allergic to something, the body overreacts when exposed to it. The thing the body reacts to is called an allergen. Most allergens are harmless. But if one is allergic to something, the body's system for fighting infection (your immune system) is too sensitive to that particular allergen. It triggers changes that we call allergic reactions. For example, pollen is an allergen for many. Those allergic to pollen sneeze and have runny eyes when pollen is in the air. Some other allergic conditions are hay fever and asthma.
Allergic contact dermatitis – During cases of allergic contact dermatitis, the skin experiences an allergic reaction when it comes into contact with certain things. Some allergens that can cause this kind of problem include fragrances, nickel, rubber and plants such as poison ivy and can cause an itchy red rash.
Irritant contact dermatitis - This type of eczema results from contact with a harsh substance that causes skin irritation. Chemicals and detergents can cause this type of eczema, producing an itchy red rash, usually on the hands.
Seborrheic dermatitis - Seborrheic dermatitis results in red or flaky areas, affecting parts of the body with hair, or the folds or creases of the skin. These are body parts that have lots of sebaceous glands, which give seborrheic dermatitis its name. This dermatitis of the scalp can cause dandruff in adults. It can also affect the scalp of babies, a condition called cradle cap.
Stasis dermatitis - This is a form of eczema affecting older people with poor blood circulation. It develops on the lower legs, above the ankles. The skin becomes speckled, itchy and dry. Stasis dermatitis is treated in the same fashion as atopic eczema.
Is eczema primarily caused by an allergic reaction? Do you know who is at risk of developing this skin condition? Continue reading here for more information on what cause of eczema.