WHAT IS ECZEMA?
Atopic dermatitis starts with dry skin that is often very itchy and scratching causes the dry skin to become red and irritated, inflamed. Over time, a recurring rash can lead to tough and thickened skin. The cause of it is unknown but it affects the skin's ability to hold moisture.
In Atopic dermatitis skin typically appears as inflamed, itchy, cracked, rough with occasional blisters.
Atopy is a genetic disposition to form excessive IgE which leads to a generalized and prolonged hypersensitivity to common environmental antigens like pollens, house dust mites etc.
Atopic individuals manifest one or more groups of diseases including
- hay fever
Most people who have atopic dermatitis have a personal or family history of allergies, such as hay fever (allergic dermatitis) or asthma.
Things that may make atopic dermatitis worse include:
- Allergen such as dust mite or animal dander
- Harsh soaps or detergents
- Weather changes especially dry and cold
- An allergic reaction to certain foods such as eggs, peanuts, milk, wheat, fish etc
- Skin infection
SYMPTOMS & CAUSES
- Dryness of skin
- Roughness of skin
- Often scaling
- Pigmentation of the skin
- Acute eczema involving the face and trunk.
- Rashes usually appear on scalp and cheeks.
- Rashes usually bubble up before leaking of fluids.
- Extreme itchiness hindering sleep.
- The diaper area is usually spared.
IN CHILDREN (2 YEARS TILL PUBERTY)
- The rashes are usually seen in skin folds like back of knees, elbows, neck and back.
- Itchy pigmented rashes are seen.
- Face and trunk is involved with lichenification (thickened skin) as common feature.
- Dryness of skin is much marked with scaling.
- Skin infections are common due to scratching.
- Exact cause being unknown, eczema is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
- A strong family history of atopy would increase the chances of eczema in the child.
- Environmental factors which would precipitate the symptoms in atopic individuals include:
#Irritants such as soaps, detergents, shampoos, disinfectants, juices, certain food items.
#Allergens such as house dust mites, pollens. Mold etc.
#Certain bacterias, viruses and fungi.
#Extremes of temperature, humidity, sweating.
#Eggs, nuts, sea food, wheat.
- Some women experience aggravation of her eczema around their menstrual cycle.