Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

Eczema, Atopic Dermatitis

Eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis) is a chronic non-contagious skin condition that causes intensely itchy inflammation of the skin. 

Eczema can be difficult to treat due to its unpredictable nature. It can affect one's life emotionally and physically, making everyday activities and on-the-job tasks difficult.

Common signs and symptoms of eczema include:

  • Dry, cracked skin
  • Patches of red, scaly, and inflamed skin that may become itchy
  • Tiny or large blisters
  • Pus-filled lesions

People that suffer from eczema are at a higher risk for developing skin infections due to cracked and/or weeping skin. It is also typical for people with eczema to have more sensitive skin, which puts them at a higher risk of developing irritation or allergy to external substances, such as soaps, detergents, and even water.  

Several types of eczema exist and people sometimes develop more than one type:

Atopic Dermatitis (AD) is commonly referred to as "the itch that rashes". Children, who are most likely to develop atopic dermatitis, typically have irritation involving the face and skin folds (i.e. behind knees and elbows). When AD occurs in adults, the face, neck, arms, and legs are the areas most often affected.

Contact Dermatitis can result from contact with everyday objects (i.e. shampoo, jewellery, food) that irritate the skin. This normally develops over a period of time with repeated contact with the object.

Dyshidrotic dermatitis (a form of hand eczema) occurs only on the palms of the hands, sides of the fingers, and soles of the feet. It typically causes a burning or itching sensation and a blistering rash.

Nummular dermatitis (or discoid eczema) often appears after a skin injury, such as a burn or insect bite. As the name implies, lesions are circular or oval shaped.

Seborrheic dermatitis usually starts on the scalp as oily, waxy patches but can spread to the face and other areas of the body. Like most types of eczema, sebborheic dermatitis tends to flare in cold, dry weather. 

Stasis dermatitis (or gravitational dermatitis) may develop in the lower legs when circulation becomes sluggish. Swelling due to poor blood flow can eventually affect the skin, causing a rash that usually itches, with painful sores, as well as thinning and discoloured skin.

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