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An itch has been described as an irritating sensation that produces a desire to scratch. Once in a while, everybody has experienced the itch but for some people it goes beyond this and becomes a disease called eczema. Eczema (also called dermatitis) describes any inflammation of the skin which is characterized by itching, redness and an outbreak of lesions. It is non-contagious in nature i.e. does not spread from one person to another.
Alternative Names of Eczema are: Infantile eczema; Atopic dermatitis; Dermatitis – atopic.
Complications of Eczema
The list of complications that have been mentioned in various sources for Eczema includes:
Causes of Eczema
Numerous factors have been suggested as a cause for eczema (dermatitis/ skin allergy) but no exact origin and mechanism has been pin-pointed for this condition. Most of the studies simply speculate as to what can trigger this condition and a combination of genetic as well as environmental factors has been strongly implicated.
An abnormal function of the immune system (allergy/ allergic response) is seen in most cases where the body reacts abnormally to external impressions which otherwise don’t have an impact on healthy individuals.
Some of the triggers for eczema include but are not limited to:
Signs & Symptoms of Eczema
Varied in its presentation, eczema can show up in diverse forms in different individuals. Some key features that are common to most forms of eczema are as follows:
The lesions may appear on any part of the body but are commonly seen to affect:
Diagnosis of Eczema
The typical signs and symptoms of an eczematous patch are usually enough for an experienced physician to make the diagnosis. Supportive past and family history of the patients further aid him in diagnosis of eczema / dermatitis. In some cases however, the physician may need to take a small scraping from the eczema lesion to examine it under microscope for ruling out fungal infection. Skin biopsy may be required to rule out certain other skin diseases that mimic eczema / dermatitis.
Allergy tests may be required to determine the allergens or the irritants that are causative factors in a particular case.
Patch testing is also commonly done by physicians to pin-point what substances are capable of inducing eczematous reactions especially in cases of contact dermatitis.
Treatments of Eczema
Children are unique patients because it may be difficult for them to resist scratching their eczema, thereby making the condition worse. Fortunately, for mild to moderate cases,
Prevention of Eczema
Eczema outbreaks can usually be avoided with some simple precautions. The following suggestions may help to reduce the severity and frequency of flare-ups:
When to seek Medical Advice
See your doctor if:
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