The Eczema Enigma And Allergies
Doctors aren't entirely sure what causes eczema, but in addition to a suspected genetic component, it may also be associated with allergies. Here is what you should know about this mysterious condition.
What Is Eczema?
Like allergies, eczema is an overreaction to certain substances by the body's immune system. In some people, they have a gene mutation that causes their skin to not have enough of a protective barrier. This leaves their skin dry and prone to frequent infections. When they come in contact with an external or internal trigger, their skin can develop red, scaly patches that are dry and may crack and bleed.
What Kinds Of Eczema Are There?
There are several different types of eczema to be aware of. It is not uncommon for some people to experience more than one type.
Atopic Dermatitis—This type of eczema commonly occurs in people with hay fever or asthma. It may cause severe itching, which can create a vicious cycle of itching, scratching, and damaging the skin further.
Dyshidrotic Eczema—This type of eczema causes deep blisters in between the fingers and toes and on the soles of the feet and palms of the hands. In addition to intense itching, the fluid-filled blisters are painful and unsightly. This eczema variant is more common in women and in those with seasonal allergies, such as hay fever. Coming into contact with nickel, such as on cheap jewelry or key chains, can also trigger and attack. The skin where the blisters form tends to thicken over time, which can make it difficult to use the fingers and hands.
Nummular Eczema—Sometimes also referred to as discoid eczema, nummular eczema results in small, disc- or coin-shaped skin lesions. These lesions most commonly occur on the legs or arms. Nummular eczema more frequently occurs in middle-aged men than women. The skin lesions may resemble ringworm, which is a fungus, so it is important to see a skin allergy specialist for an official diagnosis. The lesions often take weeks to heal, and they may turn into staph infections, which are potentially dangerous.
Seborrheic Dermatitis—This is a type of eczema that occurs on the scalp or occasionally the oily areas of the face. It causes a type of severe dandruff that can be difficult to control.
How Is Eczema Treated?
Because there are different types of eczema, they are treated differently. Sometimes simply changing the soaps, detergents, and household chemicals you use can help dramatically. Other times, you may need steroids or medicated creams as well as antibiotics. Eczema will sometimes suddenly disappear or seem to go into a lengthy remission and then flare up again. Seeing an allergy specialist is important to identify your personal triggers.
For more information, reach out to allergy specialists like those at The Regional Allergy Asthma & Immunology Center, PC.