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While eczema is a very well known condition, many of us are unaware of the various types, triggers and emotional effects of this skin disease. Raising awareness about eczema is vital in understanding the condition. At ProMedical, we are all about education and research, are so we are really excited to bring you the latest findings on eczema just in time for National Eczema Awareness week!
National Eczema Week 2020 occurs during September and aims to raise awareness about eczema, and this year the National Eczema Society is unveiling the findings of significant new research undertaken with LEO Pharma. The National Eczema Society asked adults with eczema and parents of children with eczema a range of questions, to understand the impacts of living with the condition.
The research found:
Over 1000 people responded to the survey, and the findings can be explored further at https://eczema.org/blog/new2020/
To better understand this condition, first, it is essential to know the basics.
Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition, noted by dry, pruritis (itch) and red skin. It is a common complex long-term condition that re-occurs and arises from an interaction between genes and the environment.
Affecting both children and adults; it varies in type, symptoms, and intensity from person to person.
What are the different types of eczema?
It is divided into two subtypes:
Eczema type 1
Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory type of eczema. While the exact cause is unknown, it happens when the immune system overreacts to an allergen or irritant. Usually starting in childhood
Frequently, atopic dermatitis is marked by dry, itchy skin, a rash on the cheeks, arms or legs and erythema (redness), among other symptoms discussed below.
Eczema type 2
These subtypes differ in the level of total immunoglobulin E (IgE) in serum, response to allergens in skin prick tests, and detection of specific IgE antibodies. Non-atopic eczema will have a low level of immunoglobulin E (IgE), negative skin prick tests, and undetectable IgE antibodies.
Other Types of Eczema
Discoid eczema – occurs when circular or oval patches appear on the skin, also known as nummular eczema.
It is very different in appearance to the usual types, and it is thought insect bites and dry skin can trigger a flare-up.
Contact dermatitis - also known as allergic eczema – a type of eczema that presents when the body encounters a substance. While there are several types of contact dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis are the most common. Irritants can be chemicals, solvents, allergens (dander or pollen), fumes, and acidic foods.
Symptoms will usually appear on the hands or the parts of the body that touched the irritant and include:
Varicose eczema - most often affects the lower legs and is caused by problems with blood flow through the leg veins.
Varicose eczema (venous eczema), gravitational or stasis eczema, is a long-term skin condition common in people with varicose veins.
If varicose eczema goes untreated, then leg ulcers can develop. Leg ulcers are long-lasting wounds that form where the skin has become damaged.
Seborrheic eczema – a type of eczema that tends to develop on areas of the body that contain a lot of oil-producing (sebaceous) glands such as on the sides of the nose, eyebrows, upper back, ears, and scalp. Red, scaly patches develop and unlike other types, this type of dermatitis is not due to allergies. The exact cause is not known; however, hormones and genetics may well play a role.
It can affect any age group; often, infants develop this condition commonly referred to as 'cradle cap'.
Individuals with immunity disease or disease that affects the nervous system are often said to be at a higher risk of developing seborrheic dermatitis.
Dyshidrotic eczema (pompholyx), also known as vesicular eczema, is a type marked by the appearance of vesicles or bullae (blisters). A similar condition can affect the feet (vesicular foot dermatitis).
Stress, allergies (such as hay fever), nickel exposure, and may trigger dyshidrotic eczema. This eczema is twice as common in females as in males.
Symptoms can include:
Papular eczema – this type of eczema causes a rash of small itchy bumps to appear on the skin called papules. These little bumps distinguish between other types and prevalent eczema as this is the only type with raised lumps. They look like pimples and can appear on the torso, arms, or legs.
Presently, there is no cure for this type of eczema, but home treatments can help manage symptoms.
Hyperkeratotic eczema - affects the hands and feet and is a well-recognized condition that is usually chronic and resistant to therapy. The eruption is marked by dry, thick, grey plaques involving the palmar and plantar surfaces. Cracking of the dry skin or fissuring (splitting) can develop and become very painful.
Follicular eczema / follicular dermatitis – a type of eczema affecting the hair follicles rather than the skin. The cause is unknown, but asthmatics and people with hay fever are thought to be at a higher risk of developing it.
Erythroderma –(generalized exfoliative dermatitis) – is a type that leads to an intense and reddening of the skin due to inflammation. It often is associated with exfoliation (skin peeling off in scales or layers) when it may also be known as exfoliative dermatitis (ED).
Flexural eczema –
Eczema herpeticum Is a rare skin condition caused by one of the herpes viruses that present as a blister-like painful rash. Often seen as a complication of atopic eczema, this is a severe type of eczema requiring prompt antiviral medicine.
Topical steroids are not recommended generally but may be necessary to treat active atopic dermatitis.
Xerotic eczema / dry eczema – a common type of eczema developing when skin becomes abnormally dry, such as wintertime or in arid conditions.
Usually, the site is the shins, but asteatotic eczema can occur on the trunk and arms. Red, itchy, and dry patches will appear.
What causes eczema?
The cause is currently unknown, but what is evident is that eczema it is not down to one single thing. Genetics, immune system abnormalities, environment, and allergies can be responsible for the development of the condition.
People with atopic eczema often have dehydrated skin because their skin is unable to retain a lot of moisture. This dryness can mean the skin is more susceptible to specific triggers, causing it to become itchy and sore.
Several things may trigger your eczema symptoms. These can vary from person to person.
What are the symptoms of eczema?
Treatment will depend on individual symptoms, type of eczema, severity and patient needs. Your GP and dermatologist can assess on a personal basis and develop a person-centred management plan based on needs analysis and patient preferences.
Eczema is a complex condition that can cause emotional and physical symptoms, but for the most part if well managed, the person will be able to live a good active life with their condition. If you or your child suffer from eczema, find support and information - make yourself aware this September on all things eczema! visit www.eczema.org for more.
If you are working in the field of dermatology, why not visit our careers page at www.promedical.co.uk/jobs where you can browse various roles available now!
Sources: Varicose eczema - NHS. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/varicose-eczema/
Varicose eczema - Illnesses & conditions | NHS inform. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/skin-hair-and-nails/varicose-eczema