Do you know which type of eczema you have? There are many types of eczema and those with one type of eczema tend to get another. Some of the main forms of eczema are listed here.
You are born with a genetic tendency to develop atopic eczema, but the environment can also be a possible cause. It is a sign of an overactive immune system.
It is most common in children and signs show up within the early months of life. A vast majority will grow out of this by puberty.
Atopic eczema is becoming increasingly common. Statistics for the United Kingdom alone show us that children of school age make up to 20 percent and adults up to 5 percent of all atopic eczema sufferers.
In this case, the body produces vast quantities of the protein IgE which is a protein that acts on behalf of the protective cells of the immune system. It causes allergic reactions.
We all have this protein but with atopic eczema much more is produced due to the heightened sensitivity to certain substances either by touch, by consuming certain foods and fluids and by inhalation and breathing airborne particles.
The problem is due to the immune system being overactive which leads to inflammation of the skin. With atopic eczema, you may develop irritant contact eczema as well and be predisposed to hay fever and asthma.
The most common allergens found in those with atopic eczema are house dust mites or bed bugs as they are better known, pollen, pet fur, skin, and feathers.
Other allergens include yeasts found on the body and foods such as cow’s milk, soya, wheat, nuts, and eggs.
Ideally, find out what you are allergic to and avoid it at all costs. Have a blood test to help diagnose causes.
Flareups will show themselves in the form of dry hot and itchy skin around the neck, knees, wrists, face, and eyelids.
More common in older people, normally found on the leg, it results in a red itchy appearance.
All age ranges tend to suffer from discoid eczema, but it is found mainly in older men. Adults tend to react to stress and alcohol in excess. In children and younger people, it is common in those with a tendency to atopic eczema.
Mainly found in adults where there are large areas of sweat glands in the body. It is caused by too much pityrosporum, which is a harmless yeast formed in the body. An anti-yeast treatment will help.
It is found mainly on the scalp, face, armpits, and groin due to the larger number of grease glands. The condition can vary from mild where there is flaky skin to severe where the skin becomes itchy, oily and inflamed.
For scalp problems, anti-yeast shampoos can help to control it. For severe cases, coal tar shampoos and selenium shampoos are often used.
Babies are prone to this form of eczema in the form of a cradle cap on the scalp and the folds of the skin. As their skin is so delicate you need to be sure of the products used. Some recommended products include emollient creams, antifungal creams, and steroid creams.
Aqueous cream mixed with salicylic acid can help soften hard scaling from a cradle cap. Wash this out afterward with shampoo specifically for your baby. A natural alternative is to rub olive oil on the scalp. this is a traditional remedy that has been around for years.
Irritant Contact Eczema
This is very common and is caused when there is contact with a substance that triggers hypersensitivity followed by an allergic reaction due to the skin being irritated.
Those with occupations that require the hands to get wet repeatedly such as hairdressers, food workers, cleaners, those that handle food, nurses and health workers are the main groups who suffer from irritant contact eczema.
This is due to constant contact with certain substances and chemicals found in everyday products that we use around the house and in the workplace.
Around 85 percent of the culprits are soap, detergents, and food. Bleaches, rubber, skin medications, hairdressing chemicals, and perfumes are particularly common causes along with paints and many products used for craft making such as glues.
It is unrealistic to try and avoid many of these problems as they are in the workplace and everyday tasks, so it is advisable to use protective gloves. As the rubber in most of these gloves can make it worse, you should use the gloves with cotton inners or buy a separate pair of thin breathable cotton gloves to wear inside the rubber gloves. This will help and avoid excessive sweating as well which can happen when wearing rubber gloves for a long time and lessen the chance of an outbreak.
The appearance is the same as normal eczema and it is treated the same as allergic contact eczema. Keeping the hands moisturized to avoid as much cracking and splitting of the skin is important. Try to find organic, chemical-free barrier creams as steroid creams have been known to make eczema worse in some people.
Allergic Contact Eczema
You can have a patch test to determine possible causes if you are prone to any of these irritant issues.
The immune system identifies certain substances that touch the skin as a foreign body and the skin reacts to these. Symptoms include weeping, itching, and redness on the skin surface. Symptoms normally occur around the immediate area of contact and then spread as the immune cells start to go to work.
It is important to observe the symptoms at the onset as you can better determine the cause and avoid it in the future. There are products we use in our everyday lives that we are unaware of. Just a few of these are listed below with a sample of what they are used for:
Those you may be aware of:
- Nickel – jewelry, studs on trousers, bra clips, butterfly earring backs
- Plants – allergic reactions caused by touch and breathing as in hay fever
Those you may not be aware of:
- Rubber – some of our clothing and shoes contain rubber and other chemicals.
- Epoxy resins – hobby craft adhesives.
- Colophony – used for plasters.
- Paraphenylenediamine – some henna products and hair dyes that are black.
- Potassium dichromate – leather products.
- Cetearyl alcohol – emollient creams.
- Neomycin – antibiotic.
- Fusidic acid – antibiotic.
- Steroid creams – hydrocortisone Lanolin – moisturizer.
As you will see, ingredients contained in the steroid creams and moisturizers used to treat eczema can themselves be the cause of the skin reaction. In this instant, the actual treatment being used could be making the problem a lot worse as opposed to making it better.
You may also want to avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold sore.