Eczema – What is it?
eczema before and after
Perhaps you have been told you have ‘eczema’. Eczema comes from a Greek word which means to ‘bubble over’. Did you know that this is a general term that encompasses many different skin afflictions? Eczema is a condition that affects as many as 30 million people according to the National Eczema Organization.
It is estimated this condition affects 10% of babies. It also affects children and adults. The following conditions are a more specific skin condition within the broader category of eczema:
> Atopic dermatitis -the most common, long lasting, and severe
Hand eczema “hand dermatitis”
> Contact dermatitis – skin is inflamed when it comes into contact with certain chemicals
>Seborrheic dermatitis – this is a condition very similar to eczema
>Dyshidrotic eczema – blistering condition that is two times more common in women and it is most common on fingers, palms and soles of feet
>Stasis dermatitis – skin eruptions that happen if a person has problems with their veins – especially in their lower legs
Eczema is thought to likely be inherited although the exact cause is unknown. Some causes are thought to be irritants, allergies, microbes (such as a virus or bacteria), certain foods, extreme temperatures, stress or hormones. 80% of children that have eczema will develop hay fever (allergic rhinitis).
Eczema occurs mostly on the face of babies and primarily the chin. It also can develop on the scalp, outer arms, trunk and legs. Children develop it more on areas like the inner elbow, ankles, wrist and inner knees. Adults may have patches anywhere on their body including arms and legs or tops of ears.
There are many signs and symptoms of eczema. Usually the skin has patchy, dry, angry red marks. Sometimes there are raised areas, rough leathery patches or dark colored patches. There is always itching. Sometimes it is so intense that one has problems sleeping and the scratching can be so rough it could draw blood.
An ‘itch-scratch cycle’ has been coined due to the sequence of unfortunate events that happens with those with eczema. The itchy skin causes the person to itch and scratch which damages the skin. This itching and skin damage releases chemicals that further damage the skin and the person itches even more.
Treatments are varied and numerous although there is no one treatment that is a sure remedy. The topical treatments include creams and lotions. Some are prescription like hydrocortisone creams and some are over the counter like aloe based lotions. There are even some home remedies like vinegar or bleach baths. Certain vitamins and herbs have been used with some success along with other natural eczema treatments.
Other treatments include anything to keep the skin moist so it doesn’t crack allowing more bacteria in and also to soothe the skin. This includes a wet wrap on the affected area with a dry bandage over it. Humidifiers used in the room to keep the air moist are also recommended. Using moisturizers daily and applying lotion within minutes of a lukewarm bath to seal in the moisture.
Lukewarm is another key. Extreme temperatures will sometimes heighten the effects of eczema. Exercising where the body sweats is not recommended. Sunburn and frosty subzero temperatures may also worsen the symptoms.
One alternative treatment in the literature has had good reviews with positive patient testimonials. It is a guide called “Eczema Free Forever” and does not utilize creams or lotions. Their premise is that eczema should be treated from within the body and not just on the outside. This guide claims to not use medication and it will actually slow down the aging process and create toned and younger looking skin. Check it out!
Eczema is a general term for medical conditions where the skin is inflamed and irritated. A specific type of eczema results when small fluid filled bubbles or blisters appear on the hands, feet or fingers. This condition is called dyshidrotic eczema. Another name for dyshidrotic eczema is pompholyz which means “bubble” in Greek. Eczema is more common in teens and adults up to middle age and then it seems to resolve for most people.
The dyshidrotic eczema pictures show red raised blisters as small as pin pricks. When they group together they can create a larger blister. These blisters itch and can range from mild to severe. Most people have a fairly mild case of them. They can also be considered acute (comes on quickly and stays for a short period of time and then fades) or chronic (they stay for months or years). Sometimes it is difficult to see eczema on the hands because of the skin thickness on the fingers and palms.
Unfortunately, the exact cause is unknown but stress, sensitive skin and extreme cold condition make it worse. Certain times of the year also are worse. Problems with the toenails or fingernails may also occur due to this condition. Those that have hay fever also seem to contract dyshidrotic eczema more easily.
The following conditions also appear to make eczema on hands more likely:
• Industrial work conditions especially those working with cement and exposure to nickel, cobalt or chromium
• Extreme cold conditions
• Hands that are in water a lot such as healthcare (excessive hand-washing), cosmetology (shampooing heads), cleaning crews or caterers
There are a few dyshidrotic eczema home remedies that are fairly effective for some people with milder cases. Natural sun light can help dry out the skin as long as too much sun is not used and the skin burns. Using a wet compress is also good on the red scaly and sometimes cracked skin. Soaking the affected area in a solution of witch hazel also has worked with some patients. There are over the counter anti-histamines such is used for hay fever that could help reduce the outbreaks also. These natural eczema treatments are a blessing to those suffering from mild to moderate cases that do not want to incur the expense of doctor visits.
If the condition is not helped by these home or natural remedies, you may need to have a doctor intervene. He will want to know when the condition started and what makes it worse or better. He will take a careful history to see what chemicals, if any you have been exposed to in work, a hobby or your general living area. There is no lab test to diagnose dyshidrotic eczema but sometimes skin scrapings will be done to rule out of the skin disorders.
Your doctor may prescribe ointments or creams that would have higher concentrations of corticosteroids like Prednisone. He may ask that you wrap the affected part in a medicinal solution. Pills may be prescribed for more severe cases if the above milder remedies have failed but the downside to these is there could be long term side effects from these drugs. Only your doctor will know best once he knows your own specific medical history and any other medications you may be on. He may also prescribe phototherapy which is done in the doctor’s office and includes the use of ultraviolet rays – similar to the sun but much stronger and filtered. One of the last choices could be immune suppressing ointments but these will increase your risk of skin infections so they are used sparingly.
There are some new treatments out there and as always, consult with your physician before trying anything that needs a prescription.
Understanding Seborrheic Dermatitis?
Seborrheic Dermatitis that can occur on the nose, hairline, scalp, eyebrows and forehead
Seborrheic dermatitis is a treatable skin condition. ‘Derm’ means skin and ‘itis’ means inflammation so the term means the skin is inflamed. Seborrheic(a) pertains to the extra oil on the skin, usually on the scalp and face so those with seborrheic dermatitis have an oily build up on their skin with inflammation. It can also occur in the folds of the skin or where the knees or elbows bend.
The inflammation is demonstrated with redness and scaling. It isn’t a very pretty picture but it is treatable. Unfortunately, there is no prevention for it and no 100% cure but it is treatable and very manageable.
Three age groups typically are seen with seborrheic dermatitis: babies, middle age, and the elderly. At each of these stages, the person’s body is going through hormonal and other changes. Acne typically accompanies seborrheic dermatitis also. Babies get seborrheic dermatitis on their face or scalp are said to have ‘cradle cap’. Some call it mistakenly ‘cradle crap’. It is an oily scaly material on the scalp and a gentle shampoo with very gentle scraping, using a baby brush or comb, can work it free. It usually disappears by 8-12 months.
Seborrheic dermatitis natural treatment regimens are also a possibility for management. There are many that have testified to its working. In looking at seborrheic dermatitis pictures, before and after the natural treatment, one can see definite improvement in the symptoms.
Adults are treated differently from babies although shampoo and creams are usually the recommendation. Seborrheic dermatitis treatment usually includes special shampoos with ingredients such as zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide or salicylic acid.
A dermatologist (skin doctor) should be consulted and may prescribe higher potency creams or shampoos. Excessive use of these higher potency creams or shampoos have their own side effects so one needs to be careful and follow the doctor’s prescription. Just because a little works great, one should not assume that a lot will work even better!
A few interesting facts about seborrheic dermatitis include the fact that it is more common in patients with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s. It also comes on after heart attacks. Some feel that yeast organisms can come into play also. Dry and cold climates tend to make it worse. Those with immune system diseases such as mono, HIV or AIDS also are more susceptible. Stress can bring it on also.
According to a Mayo Clinic website, you should seek a physician’s opinion when you are uncomfortable from the itching that it makes you lose sleep or distracts you from your normal daily activities, when you are embarrassed or anxious from the condition, if you feel your skin may be infected or if you have tried self treatment and it does not seem to be working.
To prepare for your first appointment with a medical specialist, write down all of the symptoms you are having, even if you don’t feel they are related to your skin. Note when you first noticed the symptoms and what makes them get worse or better. Note any home remedies you have tried and what has helped or hindered. List all of your medications including vitamins and herbal supplements.
During your visit with the physician, he will give you a thorough physical exam and then will take a careful history asking about life changes or stressors. This condition is treatable
and he will try to see what would be best for you. He may suggest shaving off a beard or mustache if that is where the itchy skin is. He may suggest different soaps. He may want to biopsy the area if it looks suspicious for some other skin condition.