Eczema is a very common skin disorder. In fact, the term “eczema” refers to any type of skin inflammation that results in itchy, red, inflamed skin prone to any type of peeling, weeping, or blistering. According to statistics from the National Eczema Association, eczema is a general term for dermatitis that affects over 30 million Americans, mostly babies and children who develop telltale patches of eczema on the cheeks and chin to start. However, eczema can develop in patients of any age, on various areas of the body. While the root cause of eczema is largely unknown, this skin condition is thought to trigger flare-ups due to a combination of environmental and genetic factors (i.e., immune system and allergens).
While eczema is generally thought to be a chronic skin condition that typically causes itchy, red, and inflamed patches to develop on the skin, this skin disorder occurs in several forms, ranging from mild, moderate, to severe, including:
- Dyshidrotic eczema
- Nummular eczema
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Atopic dermatitis
- Stasis dermatitis, and
- Contact dermatitis
While eczema isn’t contagious, many of the common symptoms can often be aesthetically embarrassing and painful. Here’s what to look for:
1. Itchy skin
The majority of eczema patients overwhelmingly agree that eczema is itchy. So itchy that even mild to moderate cases are tempting to scratch in what’s commonly called the “itch-scratch cycle”. However, scratching eczema can quickly cause inflammation, bleeding, and infection. So you should avoid the temptation to scratch as much as possible.
2. Dry, sensitive skin
Eczema causes damage to the skin’s barrier, which also leads to a vicious cycle of dehydration and skin dryness. Skin unable to retain adequate moisture is also very sensitive and prone to all sorts of allergens, bacteria, and irritation.
3. Chronic inflammation
Not all forms of eczema cause inflammation. However, atopic dermatitis tends to cause chronically inflamed skin that appears in red, swollen vesicles (or blisters) that tend to crack (eczematous) and weep, and then crust over and scale. This type of eruption is termed. In addition, dry skin is a very common complaint in almost all those afflicted with atopic dermatitis.
4. Skin discoloration
While eczema tends to start in inflamed red patches of skin, the illness can cause pronounced hyperpigmentation (gray, dark red, brown, or ashen in color) in affected skin vs. healthy skin, particularly in patients with naturally darker skin pigmentation.