SKIN DISEASES: eczema and dermatitis
Symptoms: Dermatitis (eczema) - is an inflammation of the skin. There are several causes of eczema, including bacteria, fungi, parasites or foreign substances (allergens), but it is most commonly thought to be related to allergies. Chronic forms of dermatitis tend to cause thickening, pigmentation, and scaling of the skin, whereas acute forms are characterized by a red, itching area of blisters and oozing.
Eczema is a general term used for many types of dermatitis.
New research suggests that damage to the protective layer of the skin causes eczema. Use of a shielding lotion, which will replace this protective layer, is the best form of eczema treatment.
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- is a chronic disease affecting the skin, the most common of the many types of eczema, that is caused by general systemic allergic reactions, as opposed to contact with an irritant. Atopic dermatitis tends to run in families susceptible to asthma and hay fever and often occurs together with these diseases.
Atopic dermatitis is characterized by itching and inflammation of the skin, causing scaling, thickening, pigmentation, redness, weeping, crusting and cracking.
- is an allergenic reaction, the result of direct contact with an irritant.
The new research on eczema reveals that while thin or damaged skin barriers make people more susceptible to developing eczema, flares or lesions often first occur following the use of irritants, such as soap, detergents or various household chemicals being handled or left on the clothes unrinsed, some synthetic fibers, cosmetics and skin-care products, nail polish remover, antiperspirants. As well as wearing rubber gloves, unwashed new clothes, or plated jewelry can also cause contact dermatitis. One of the frequently encountered causes of allergic contact dermatitis are nickel-containing buttons and rivets on clothes(jeans). Among plants that may cause allergic reaction are: poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac.
The inflammation commonly occurs on the surface of hands and feet, as the hands come in contact with most of the chemicals and the warm, wet environment inside shoes is perfect for fungal infections to arise.
Severe acute contact dermatitis or a drug reaction can be followed by "Baboon syndrome" - a systemic reaction that is confined to the intertriginous areas.
Perioral dermatitis (muzzle rash)
- is a common adult women problem, rarely occuring in men. It mainly affects persons with the oily skin, most frequently appear around the mouth, as groups of itchy or tender small red spots. These spots spare the skin bordering the lips, developing on the chin, upper lip and cheeks. The skin surface becomes dry and flaky.
In cases when the skin around the nose and eyes is also involved, the condition is called periorificial dermatitis. This type of dermatitis may be induced by regular application of the moisturizing face creams, make-up foundations, sunscreens as well as usage of topical steroid creams to the area bounded by the cheek folds, chin and around eyes.
Dermatitis herpetiformis (Duhring's disease)
- is chronic disease of the skin characterized by severe itching and eruption of vesicles and groups of papules on the elbows, knees, back, and buttocks. In most cases, it is highly symmetric.
Dermatitis herpetiformis is frequently associated with sensitivity of the intestine to gluten (a protein found in cereals) in the diet.
Seborrh(o)eic dermatitis (dyssebacia, pityriasis alba, seborrheic dermatosis)
- is a chronic form of dermatitis characterized by oily scales, crusty yellow patches, and itching. Seborrheic dermatitis occurs primarily on the scalp, face, upper body, as well as on the genitals, and in skin creases along the nose, under the breasts, and elsewhere, particularly affecting the sebum-gland rich areas of the skin. It is thought to be caused by a fungal infection caused by the yeast, Malassezia furfur (aka Pityrosporum ovale) in individuals with decreased immunity and increased sebum production. Adult seborhheic dermatitis typically affects those between 20 and 40 years old.
Infantile seborrh(o)eic dermatitis (cradle cap)
- is a form of seborrheic dermatitis occuring in infants, it commonly begins sometime in the first 3 months and can affect any baby. Cradle cap is characterized by patchy, greasy, scaly and crusty skin rash on the scalp that is often prominent around the ear or the eyebrows (when it appears in other locations, it is called seborrheic dermatitis rather than cradle cap). It apparently doesn't itch and eventually goes away on its own. Cradle cap is supposed to be caused by hyperactive sebaceous glands in the skin of newborn babies, due to the mother's hormones still in the baby's circulation, there may also be a relationship with skin yeasts.
Nummular dermatitis (discoid eczema)
- is recurrent and chronic form of dermatitis, that may appear at any age, but is most common in people in their 60's. It is characterized by distinctive coin-shaped red itchy patches, that may affect any part of the body, but most commonly develop on the legs and buttocks. Flare-ups of the disease are associated with cold seasons, when the skin is getting dry.
Stasis dermatitis (varicose eczema)
- is the result of poor blood circulation in the lower legs, causing pooling of blood, fluid buildup and edema. This leads to unhealthy skin growth and irritation, especially around the ankles. It can happen later in life, in people with varicose veins, congestive heart failure, or other conditions.
Treatments: The first step in treating dermatitis (eczema) is identifying and eliminating the cause. In the case of mild skin inflammation try a room-temperature bath, followed by application of a shielding lotion. If the condition does not improve see your dermatologist.
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