Thursday, February 22, 2018

Eczema Overview

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Category: Eczema

Eczema, also known as “atopic dermatitis,” is a catch-all term for conditions that cause recurring itching, and red, scaly, thickened skin, with possibly coin-size welts or small, fluid-filled blisters. Dermatologists recognize many types of eczema (among them: allergic/atopic, nummular, and seborrheic), but they all pretty much boil down to the same affliction, and have the similar treatments.

Eczema can be caused by allergies, including food sensitivities. Tip-offs to allergic eczema are other allergy problems that tend to run in families: hayfever, sinus infections, and asthma. Allergic eczema is often worse in winter than summer. It often starts in infancy and continues sporadically into adulthood.

Allergic eczema has a genetic component. If one of your parents has the condition, your risk is about 25 percent. If both of your parents have it, your risk jumps to at least 50 percent.

Eczema can also be caused by exposure to irritants. Job- or hobby-related eczema usually develops on areas exposed to offending chemicals, usually your hands or arms, and especially under rings or watches where irritants tend to get trapped.

Other possible eczema triggers include: stress, profuse sweating, and exposure to grease, oils, soaps, detergents, dry climates, a change of climate, hot or cold temperatures, irritating fibers, or environmental pollutants.

But quite often, it’s very difficult to pinpoint any cause. Your skin simply starts itching, and you start scratching. Your itching may be continuous or sporadic, but the scratching quickly becomes automatic. The itch-scratch cycle may drive you crazy. It can also make things worse. Sustained, deep scratching can lead to skin infections, as your nails scrape away your outer skin, allowing bacteria that normally remain on the surface of your skin to invade deeper tissue.

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