Eczema is a term commonly used by the masses to denote any skin rash or condition that is red and itchy. It is basically inflammation of the skin (dermatitis) that can be seen in various skin conditions and can be caused by multiple reasons. The moment you feel any abnormality on your skin, it is best advised that you consult a dermatologist at the earliest. Any delay can lead to complications and can make the situation adverse.
Signs and Symptoms of Eczema:
Variable intensity of itching
Soreness (raw and sensitive skin)
Exudation ie oozing of water like fluid
Thickening of skin
Red to brown patches of skin
Small raised skin colored or discoloured bumps
Fluid filled vesicles and blisters
Scales (flakes of dead and dry skin)
Prevalence of Eczema:
Eczema is fairly common among Indian masses with around 20-30% of population affected at any point of time. There is slight female preponderance which may be accountable to work and lifestyle (domestic chores mainly taken up by females). There are various types of eczema. It can be:
Exogenous : Due to external agents like environmental factors, soaps and detergents
Endogenous : Due to internal bodily factors.
Combined type: External plus internal factors act both.
Depending upon duration and presentation they can be acute(red oozy lesion that may crust) or chronic(less oozy, more dry and flaky,thickened skin)
Who does Eczema affect?
Eczema affects all age groups from infants to adults.certain eczemas are more common in certain age groups.there may be some genetic component also causing increased propensity.it is a non infectious disease and may run in families.common environmental triggers include-
What are the triggers of Eczema?
Soaps, detergents, harsh chemicals, vegetable and fruit juices, certain food items, nuts, eggs, dairy products, fungi, mites, molds,sunlight(UV rays), certain medicines (oral and creams),extreme weather, metals (nickel), clothes, diaper, rubber,microbes ,plants,.pollen etc .some factors may act as contributing factors like dry skin, defective skin barrier, immunity, hormones,psychological stress.
How is Eczema diagnosed and treated?
Diagnosis is based on clinical examination (visual inspection) by specialist doctor
History of flares
Patch testing (to determine agents that cause allergy)
Blood investigations (serum IgE)
Culture & sensitivity, microscopy, biopsy etc.
Treatment aims at removing any possible external source of allergy/irritant, ample hydration and moisturization of skin( soaks,bath, dressings, moisturizers),dietary measures, oral and topical medicines(corticosteroids, tacrolimus etc),antibiotics and antifungals, immunomodulatory drugs, sun protection and phototherapy.a multipronged approach is required for diagnosis and treatment.