What is eczema?
The existence of other diseases, allergies, contact with irritants and genetic inheritance are some of the causes of eczema.
Endogenous or atopic eczema is an atopic disease typically found in patients with rhinitis, conjunctivitis, asthma and dermatitis, and usually presenting as hypersensitive dry skin. It is often related to allergic reactions or external stimuli such as exposure to pollen, dust, fur, and urticaria, viral infections and bacterial skin infections.
Exogenous or contact eczema is the allergic or irritative reaction to chemical substances that have come into contact with the skin and that the body interprets as toxic.
Eczema shows up as skin lesions made up of itchy scaly red patches on different parts of the body. Sometimes there may be an inflammatory reaction in the area of the outbreak that may give rise to serum-filled blisters.
Who is affected by eczema?
Figures show that around 30% of patients with eczema have a family history of atopic disease in the family. Atopic eczema can appear when a child is just a few months old and in these cases it does so on the scalp, face and nappy area. It usually disappears during puberty, leaving the skin dry, and in some cases, signs of atopy such as urticaria or asthma.
Contact eczema appears in patients sensitive to a particular substance, called an allergen. The affected person will have a skin reaction each time they are exposed to this substance.
Suspected diagnosis of each type of eczema must be carried out through studying the patient's medical history. In most cases, diagnosis is clinical, in other words, the dermatologist will diagnose the condition after examining the patches on the skin. If there is any doubt, a skin biopsy can confirm diagnosis.
For contact eczema, a patch test will be needed to determine the allergen responsible for the patient’s patches of eczema.
There are three types of treatment:
- Measures to help the skin heal, such as avoiding excessive washing, using specific products for washing, keeping the skin well hydrated and avoiding products that irritate the area.
- Topical treatments. The use of corticosteroids on the skin for a limited period of time. This medication must be prescribed by a doctor according to the characteristics of the person with eczema.
- Systemic treatment. Taking corticosteroids orally for severe cases. If the eczema becomes infected, antibiotics may sometimes be necessary. Treatment must always be prescribed by a medical professional.