What is eczema?
Eczema is a collective term for skin diseases, characterized by inflammation of the skin. Although the cause, severity and symptoms may be different, all forms of eczema also have common characteristics. The most striking are itching and red skin. Eczema often goes together with dry skin. On the one hand, eczema occurs more easily with dry skin. On the other hand, people with eczema easier have a dry skin. Because of the eczema, the skin loses more moisture and contains fewer fats, even in places where no trace of eczema can be detected. Eczema is not contagious. So you can not get the condition by touching someone with eczema or swimming in the same pool.
Many forms of eczema are hereditary or are caused by allergies. In general terms, it can be said that most forms of eczema are exacerbated and maintained by incorrect nutrition and care.
Atopic eczema (or constitutional eczema) is caused by a congenital hypersensitivity. Other allergies are often present in the family (eg hay fever or asthma). Allergic contact eczema Allergic contact eczema (or contact allergy) develops in direct contact with plants, metals (eg nickel), wool, detergents or chemicals (eg latex). It usually occurs at an older age.
Dyshidrotic eczema is a form of eczema on the hands and sometimes also on the soles of the feet. Small blisters usually develop - especially on the sides of the fingers, the palms - which are accompanied by a lot of itching. The cause is not always clear. But there are well-known factors: predisposition to allergies, a contact allergic reaction, a reaction to irritating or drying substances or athlete's foot. Sometimes stress can also provoke this type of eczema.
Seborrhoic eczema gives a thick, greasy and yellowish rash with redness and flakes. It occurs especially at places where there are many sebaceous glands such as on the head, in the nasal folds, behind the ears, on the chest or between the shoulder blades. It often occurs with babies a few weeks after birth but usually disappears by itself. In that case we speak of 'milk crusts' or 'cradle cap'. With adults, seborrhoeic eczema on the scalp is better known as dandruff.
Erythroderma is a severe form of eczema. The entire skin is red, warm, tightly taut and swollen, flaky and itchy. In addition, the blood vessels in the skin dilate massively with a chance of dehydration and acute kidney failure. You usually feel sick. Treatment at a hospital is always necessary.
Eczema is inextricably linked to itching. This unpleasant phenomenon is promoted by the dry skin that people with eczema often have. By rubbing and scratching the condition is maintained and can even worsen. Especially with children this sometimes leads to infections. Other typical symptoms of eczema are flakes, vesicles and red skin that is swollen and warm. Symptoms can either occur simultaneously or follow each other up. Eczema with only red, flaky spots is called dry eczema. If there are fluid bubbles that burst open and cause wounds, this is called wet eczema.
Acute or chronic
In acute eczema the vesicles dry into scabs, the skin peels and the redness decreases. In the chronic form, the inflammation stops, thickening the skin, the skin lines become coarser and (painful) gaps can develop.