Eczema and Dermatitis
Eczema and dermatitis are inflammatory skin conditions that cause a red, itchy rash.
Eczema is a condition where patches of skin become inflamed, itchy, red, cracked, and rough. Blisters may sometimes occur.
The word “eczema” is also used specifically to talk about atopic dermatitis, the most common type of eczema.
“Atopic” refers to a collection of diseases involving the immune system, including atopic dermatitis, asthma, and hay fever. Dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin.
Some people outgrow the condition, while others will continue to have it throughout adulthood.
What are the symptoms of eczema?
The most important thing to remember is that eczema and its symptoms are different for everyone. Your eczema may not look the same on you as it does on another adult, or on your child. It may even appear in different areas of the body at different times.
Eczema is usually itchy. For many people, the itch is usually only mild, or moderate. But in some cases it can become much worse and you might develop extremely inflamed skin. Sometimes the itch gets so bad that people scratch it until it bleeds, which can make your eczema worse. This is called the “itch-scratch cycle.”
What to look for:
- Dry, sensitive skin
- Red, inflamed skin
- Very bad itching
- Dark colored patches of skin
- Rough, leathery or scaly patches of skin
- Oozing or crusting
- Areas of swelling
You might have all of these symptoms of eczema or only just a few. You might have some flare ups or your symptoms could go away entirely. But the only way to know if you have eczema for sure, is to visit your doctor so he or she can look at your skin and ask you about your symptoms.
What is the difference between eczema and atopic dermatitis?
Eczema is a general term for dermatitis, which simply means inflammation of the skin. All types of eczema cause itching and redness and some will blister, weep or peel.
There are several types of eczema. Atopic dermatitis considered a severe and chronic (long-lasting) form. The term “eczema” is often used interchangeably with “atopic dermatitis.
What are the treatments for eczema?
There is no cure for eczema but there are treatments. Depending on age and eczema severity, these treatments include over-the-counter (OTC) remedies, prescription topical medications, photo-therapy, and biologic drugs. Many people with eczema also find success with specific natural and alternative treatments.
How to avoid eczema
There are steps you can take to prevent eczema outbreaks:
- Establish a skin care routine, and follow your doctor’s recommendations for keeping your skin healthy.
- Wear gloves for jobs in which you have to put your hands in water. Wear cotton gloves under plastic gloves to absorb sweat, and wear gloves outside, especially during the winter months.
- Use mild soap for your bath or shower, and pat your skin dry instead of rubbing. Apply a moisturizing cream or ointment immediately after drying your skin to help seal in the moisture. Reapply cream or ointment two to three times a day.
- Take baths or showers with tepid (lukewarm) rather than hot water temperature.
- Drink at least eight glasses of water each day. Water helps to keep your skin moist.
- Try to avoid getting too hot and sweaty.
- Wear loose clothes made of cotton and other natural materials. Wash new clothing before wearing. Avoid wool.
- Avoid sudden changes in temperature and humidity.
- Learn to recognize stress in your life and how to manage it. Regular aerobic exercise, hobbies, and stress-management techniques, such as meditation or yoga, might help.
- Limit your exposure to known irritants and allergens.
- Avoid scratching or rubbing itchy areas of skin.
For studies on eczema and dermatitis visit https://www.verywellhealth.com/eczema-and-dermatitis-4013571