Eczema is a medical condition where inflammation and redness occurs in the outermost layer of the skin. It is also known as dermatitis. Speaking to Dr. Nayani Madarasinghe, Consultant Dermatologist, the Health Capsule learned that although eczema isn’t a curable medical condition it can be managed with proper treatment and isn’t a contagious disease. Dr. Madarasinghe further emphasized about the different types of eczema, the symptoms, causes and how it should be treated and prevented.
According to Dr. Madarasinghe there are several types of eczema. She first went on to explain the most common type. “One is atopic eczema, which usually occurs in children. It usually starts at round three to four months and then most of the time children come off it when they are ten to twelve years of age. This would be hereditary. And it could also be associated with asthma, psynitis, wheezing and hay fever.”she said.
Speaking of contact dermatitis or contact eczema she said, “This has two types which are, irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis. Irritant contact dermatitis is usually due to the solvents, water, harsh soaps, alkaline, due to direct damage to the skin. Allergic contact dermatitis is due to the repeated exposure of the skin; the skin gets unsensitized and then develops the allergic type of dermatitis. The common allergic reactions are to cement, hair dyes, rubbers etc,” explained Dr. Madarasinghe.
Moving on to the other types, Dr Madarasinghe said, “Then you have another type which is only limited to the hand, which is known as hand dermatitis. There is another type known discoid eczema. The cause for this is unknown, but the name was given due to its shape. They usually develop in the form of a circle. Then you have one known as stasis dermatitis. This is usually associated with varicose veins. So the eczema occurs in the inner part of the lower limb. Then you have the seborrheic eczema, which is common where the oil producing glands are, which is usually on the scalp or in the arm pits and can cause flaky skin. These are a few of the common types,” she said.
Moving on to the symptoms, Dr Madarasinghe said, “Usually the main symptoms are itching, skin redness and the inflaming of the skin. When the conditions is acute there can be oozing, blisters and bleeding. And when it is in the chronic stage the skin would be very dry rough, thickened,”she explained.
She further explained that there are certain people who can be prone to eczema, “Regarding the elderly, dry skin can make them develop eczemas. The symptom of dry skin is very important. So if you are genetically born with a lot of dry skin you should be very careful and apply moisturizer. If you have other atopic diseases or a family history regarding this condition then you can be prone to eczema,”said Dr. Madarasinghe.
Dr. Madarasinghe further said that complications can occur when the disease is left untreated. “As a complication bacterial infection can occur, on top of eczema, and the skin barrier is damaged,”she warned.
Speaking on the causes of eczema she said, “There are different causes for eczema. Some could be hereditary. In some the environmental factors can be the cause. There are times when you wouldn’t be able to find a cause because it just happens,”said Dr. Madarasinghe.
Treatment and prevention
Dr. Madarasinghe further went on to talk about the treatment that is necessary to control the condition.
‘The treatment would depend on the type of eczema. If you take the atopic dermatitis in children, there are a lot of moisturizers and soap substitutes. If it is associated with varicose veins, treating the underlying cause is important. If it is due to contact, avoiding that contact is very important. Likewise treatment will vary depending on the type of eczema. And for all eczemas, of any type, drug wise, the use of moisturizers, topical steroids or other oral medications should be prescribed depending on the severity of the condition,”she said.
Dr. Madarasinghe further said that it’s very important to prevent dry skin. “There is no cure for eczema and it can return. There can be relapses and remissions of the condition and it should be treated and managed properly,”she concluded.