Eczema is a general term for any type of “itchy rash” or dermatitis characterized by rough, crusting and inflamed patches of skin. Sometimes, blisters may occur that can cause bleeding. Eczema usually affects the face, back of the knees and inside of the elbows. In this article, you will learn about the causes of Eczema and the different types of eczema.
Irritant Contact Dermatitis
It is a common type of dermatitis that occurs when irritants, chemicals or physical agents damage the skin surface faster than the skin is able to repair the damage. It is usually caused by direct contact with alkaline substances like soap, laundry detergents, bleach, fabric softeners, solvents, shampoo, hair dyes, cement, pesticides and other chemical agents. The use of rubber gloves, frequent exposure to wet diapers and exposure to low or high temperature may also irritate the skin leading to irritant contact dermatitis.
In many cases, the reaction to an irritant may not turn up when you are first exposed to it. However, sensitivity or reaction may develop with long term use or constant exposure to certain substances. In addition, some products like perfumes, sunscreens, lotions and ointments may only cause a reaction when the skin is exposed to sunlight.
Symptoms of Irritant Contact Dermatitis
- Red patch with glazed surface
- Blistering of the skin
- Inflammation or swelling
- Dry and scaly skin
- Can be very itchy
- Eventually, sores may appear that can result in crusts and scales
Atopic Dermatitis (AD)
Atopic Dermatitis (AD) typically starts in childhood, particularly during infancy. Its exact cause is unknown, however, most people suffering from AD have a personal history or family history of allergies like asthma, allergic rhinitis or hay fever. AD usually affects the folds of elbows and knees. The skin inflammation that triggers AD rash is regarded as a type of allergic response, which can be related to a variety of factors such as:
- Environmental conditions
- Weak immune system
- Skin’s inability to be an effective barrier resulting in dry and irritable skin
- Bacteria on skin (i.e. Staphylococcus aureaus) that produce a film that clogs sweat glands
Symptoms of AD Include
- Dry, itchy and scaly skin
- Rashes on the cheeks, arms and legs
- Cracks behind the ears
- Scratching the skin can cause “weeping” clear fluid
When longstanding, the skin can be severely thickened due to constant scratching. AD causes skin to get worse (flares) and then it clears up (remissions). Keeping your skin healthy helps lock in moisture and protects skin from allergens, irritants and allergens.
Hand eczema, otherwise known as hand dermatitis is caused by a mixed number of factors. This type of eczema commonly occurs in people with jobs involving mechanical/skilled work, cleaning, hairdressing and catering. Hand eczema is not contagious, but it can result in dwindling self-esteem as it triggers unpleasant skin changes, such as:
- Extreme dryness to the point of peeling, scaling or flaking
- Cracks and blisters on the skin
- Redness and itching