Most of our readers may have already heard of Eczema or have first-hand experience with Eczema however most of the population do not know what qualifies as Eczema and how does it affect the Eczema patient and people around them. This article will take a dive into the world of Eczema.

What is Eczema?

Eczema is a skin condition where it involves red, itchy, and inflamed skin which can become both uncomfortable and embarrassing, but they’re also manageable most of the time. Eczema may develop during childhood and ease off before they reach 12 years of age or develop during adulthood. There are many kinds of Eczema however is mainly categorised into the following 6 types namely:

  1. Atopic dermatitis, 
  2. Contact dermatitis,
  3. Dyshidrotic eczema (Pompholyx)
  4. Nummular eczema, 
  5. Seborrheic dermatitis, and
  6. Stasis dermatitis

There is no known and obvious cause to Eczema however it has been determined that it might be due to immune system deficiency although studies have not been able to pinpoint how does some patients recover completely while some patient’s conditions remained.

Does Eczema have a cure?

The short answer is no. However there are still instances of Eczema patients who recovered and have clear skin but faces occasional minor flare ups. We have been battling Eczema for years and seek extensive medical help that rack up over 10 thousand dollars in bills over the years. While it has been a painful journey, it has also been a fruitful journey to understand the myriad of skin conditions out there. There are many useful treatments that we discovered and knowledge about skin condition that we are ready to share to bring your Eczema under control.

You will find joy in the fact that you can recover from Eczema if you take good care of your skin and follow simple steps that we will share. Please stay positive as there will always be a way out.

Atopic Dermatitis: Persistent Red Patches

This is the most common form of chronic Eczema that affects both children and adults. Chronic Eczema means that it will persist for a long time with typically no complete cure.

You may identify them by the following symptoms:

  • Scaly patches,
  • Redness,
  • Inflammation,
  • Swollen skin,
  • Open wounds,
  • Oozing
  • Crusting caused by scratching.
  • Commonly affected areas include the elbows, knees, hands, feet, eyelids, and nipples.

Treatments include Topical Steroid Cream and UV Phototherapy in the National Skin Center a few times a week.

Seborrheic Dermatitis: Dandruff

Most people will not recognise dandruff as Eczema but it does categorised under a type of Eczema called Seborrheic Dermatitis which affects oil-producing (sebaceous) glands like the upper back, nose, and scalp. However, unlike many other forms of eczema, seborrheic dermatitis is not the result of an allergy.

Common triggers for seborrheic dermatitis include:

  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes or illness
  • Harsh detergents, solvents, chemicals, and soaps
  • Cold, dry weather
  • Medications such as psoralen, interferon, and lithium

Treatments would include an anti-yeast shampoo, like OTC options Head and Shoulders and Selsun Blue, or a prescription version. You should also lookout for a cleaner diet as it is also linked to an unhealthy lifestyle.

Contact Dermatitis: Itchy Redness

There are mainly 3 types of Contact Dermatitis.

Irritant is the redness that occurs on the skin’s outermost layer after something like, say, wearing a rubber glove. Rubber may be an irritant to you if you develop rash over few days. These irritants may have easier access to the inner layer of your skin if you have open wounds or active atopic dermatitis.

Allergic is the second most common forms of Contact Dermatitis. It is more complicated than irritant as it involves the immune system. Once an allergen is detected, it sends a piece of the allergen off to the immune system for analysis and storage in the immune system’s memory bank but does not cause a reaction. This process is called sensitization.

When the skin comes into contact with the substance over and over, the immune system “remembers it” and develops an itchy skin response. Because it can take a few days for the immune system to recognize the chemical, the skin symptoms may appear several days after actual exposure.

Contact Urticaria also known as hives, is a less common form of contact dermatitis. With contact urticaria, swelling and redness usually happen right away after the skin comes in contact with an irritating substance. It is usually not long-lasting.

There is a rare but serious risk of an anaphylactic reaction (a severe allergic reaction that causes the throat to swell, chest tightness, and other symptoms) that can coincide with contact urticaria. If you think you are having an anaphylactic reaction, contact your doctor immediately.

Important Symptoms of Contact Dermatitis

It is important to know that there are possibilities of Contact Dermatitis that co-exist with current eczema skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis depending on the severity of your Eczema. You may have hives on your neck from time to time and also shows sign of Contact Dermatitis on your hands due to either allergy or irritant. Henceforth you have to be careful of your materials in your lifestyle as they might be one of the causes for your contact dermatitis.

Irritant contact dermatitis usually stays on the skin where the exposure to the allergen occurred. If the exposure is to a strong irritant, an immediate reaction including pain, swelling and sometimes blistering can be present. If there is ongoing exposure to a mild irritant such as water or soap, the reaction can occur over a period of weeks to months and involve dryness, itching, and cracking.

Allergic contact dermatitis may also be limited to the site of original contact, but more often spreads. The skin becomes red, hot, itchy and may “weep.” Contact dermatitis can sometimes be very difficult to distinguish from atopic dermatitis, another form of eczema. Your doctor can help you with the correct diagnosis. The allergic reaction may not appear instantly upon contact but over a period of time that range from few days to a few years and that depends on how frequent the allergen is presented to the skin.

What Causes Contact Dermatitis?

There are many different causes or triggers for contact dermatitis. Irritant contact dermatitis may develop from everyday substances such as water, too much pressure or friction on the skin and weather changes such as extreme temperature and humidity.

There are a large number of potential allergy-producing chemicals. Let’s take a look at the common ones.

Metal Allergy

Nickel allergy is the most common allergy among metal allergies as nickel can be found in common jewelry.In affected individuals, dermatitis (also called eczema) develops in places where nickel-containing metal is touching the skin.

The most common sites for nickel dermatitis are the earlobes (from earrings), the wrists (from a watch strap) and the lower abdomen (from a jeans stud); the affected areas become intensely itchy and may become red and blistered (acute dermatitis) or dry, thickened and pigmented (chronic dermatitis). 

Nickel can be found not just in jewelry but everywhere around you including the food you eat and the stationeries you use at work. Please see the simple list of nickel-related items.

  • Nine-carat gold and white gold contain nickel
  • Metal zips,
  • Bra hooks,
  • Suspender clips, 
  • Hair-pins,
  • Buttons,
  • Studs,
  • Spectacle frames
  • Mobile phones, 
  • Lipstick holders, 
  • Powder compacts,
  • Handbag catches,
  • Cigarette lighters,
  • Razors,
  • Keys,
  • Key rings,
  • Knives
  • Pens
  • Cupboard handles,
  • Kitchen utensils,
  • Cutlery,
  • Metal teapots,
  • Scissors,
  • Needles,
  • Pins,
  • Thimble,
  • Silver-coloured coins are composed of cupro-nickel
  • Paper clips

In addition to the things you can touch, you need to be wary of the food that goes into your body. This diet low in nickel-containing foods has been suggested to patients with severe contact allergy to nickel. Its efficacy is unknown. Nickel cannot be completely avoided by the diet. Avoid nickel-plated utensils and metal cooking pots. Avoid drinking the initial flow of water from a metal tap. 

Dyshidrotic eczema (Also known as Pompholyx)

Also known as dyshidrotic eczema, the key characteristic of this form of eczema is blistering that is restricted to the hands and feet.

What is it?

Pompholyx eczema is a type of eczema that is usually restricted to the hands and feet. In most cases, pompholyx eczema involves the development of intensely itchy watery blisters, mostly affecting the sides of the fingers, the palms of the hands and the soles of feet. This condition can occur at any age but is most common before the age of 40 years.

The skin is initially very itchy with a burning sensation of heat and prickling in the palms and/or soles. This is followed by a sudden crop of small blisters (vesicles), which turn into bigger weepy blisters and can become infected, causing redness, pain, swelling and pustules. There is often subsequent peeling as the skin dries out, and then the skin can become red and dry with painful cracks (skin fissures). Pompholyx eczema can also affect the nail folds and skin around the nails causing swelling (paronychia).

What causes Dyshidrotic eczema?

The exact causes of pompholyx eczema are not known, although it is thought that factors such as emotional tension, sensitivity to metal compounds (such as nickel, cobalt or chromate), heat and sweating can aggravate this condition. Fifty percent of people with pompholyx have atopic eczema as well, or a family history of atopic eczema. Pompholyx eczema can coexist with fungal infections, so assessment should include checking for the presence of any fungal infection on the hands and feet.

Is this Contact Dermatitis?

The hands and feet, where pompholyx commonly occurs, are areas of the body that are also prone to contact dermatitis (also called contact eczema). This can take one of two forms – irritant contact dermatitis or allergic contact dermatitis. A reaction could be the result of contact with potential irritants such as soap, detergents, solvents, acids/alkalis, chemicals and soil, causing irritant contact dermatitis. Or there could be an allergic reaction to a substance that is not commonly regarded as an irritant, such as rubber or nickel, causing allergic contact dermatitis.If you identify a pattern, which suggests that your hand/foot eczema may be a contact eczema, tell your healthcare professional as allergy patch testing may be appropriate. 

Nummular Eczema (Also known as Discoid Eczema)

Also known as nummular dermatitis, Discoid eczema is usually seen in adults with dry skin although it can affect teenagers and young children, but this is rare.

It is very distinct with ‘coin shaped’ discs of eczema the size of a fifty pence piece that start off slightly bumpy, usually on the lower legs, trunk or forearms. Within a few days the patches begin to ooze, and can become very itchy, crusted and infected.

Later on, the surface becomes scaly and the centre of the discs clear, leaving the skin dry and flaky. Like most types of eczema the exact cause is not clear, although dry skin is perhaps the most common feature seen in people with this condition. Other factors include the use of soaps and detergents, and previous experience of atopic eczema.

Most of the sufferers are observed to have recovered from this condition however a longer time frame.

Stasis Eczema (Varicose Eczema)

Also known as gravitaional or stasis eczema, this type of eczema is common in later life, particulary in women but can occur from the teenage years onwards.

If you have poor circulation, have had a blood clot in your legs, have varicose veins, have had phlebitis or cellulitis in the past or are overweight you are at risk of developing varicose eczema.

What causes Varicose Eczema? 

Because humans walk upright, the pressure of the blood in the veins is greater in the lower legs than anywhere else in the body when you stand up.

In active adults, the return of blood to the heart through the leg veins is usually good because muscle activity helps to push blood along. But as we get older and less active, the blood moves less well up our veins and can collect in the lower legs.

If the leg vein walls are weak, they cannot withstand high pressure in them and varicose veins develop. If someone in your family has varicose veins, the chances of you developing them are higher. If you are overweight or pregnant, your chances are increased even further. If you spend a lot of time standing up or sitting with your legs in one position (lack of mobility), the tendency to develop varicose veins is greater still.

Other conditions, such as a blood clot in the leg vein (thrombosis) which can occur during a period of inactivity, or inflammation of the vein wall (phlebitis), can weaken the leg veins and also damage the valves which direct the flow of blood through them. Cellulitis (infection in the skin) can also weaken the veins and lymph vessels, causing the venous system to function less efficiently. All these conditions also make the leg veins less able to contain the pressure of blood in them, causing problems, sometimes years later. 

If the vein walls are weakened and the blood moves sluggishly up the leg veins, fluid can pool in the lower legs and ooze through the vein walls into the surrounding space, causing the ankles to swell. Fluid may then leak through the very small vessels, causing red‐brown speckled spots to appear on the skin which becomes hot and itchy – tiny blisters can also appear, usually just above the inside of the ankle. Over time, if left untreated, the skin can develop eczema, with red, itchy spots, dryness and flaking. The skin may also change in colour and become weepy with some skin crusting.

When the eczema settles, this skin may later crack if it becomes over‐dry, or break down if scratched or picked. The skin on the lower leg generally becomes fragile.

Treatments

There are various treatments for different Eczema but the main staple that Dermatologist will prescribe you is topical steroids. Healthcare professionals in the western medical world are taught to use steroids and from hundreds to thousands of feedback from Eczema patients, steroids are good to reduce the red and scaly skin but it does not help in exact healing of your eczema. 

Most people will experience Eczema flare ups when they stopped using steroids after when they assume that their skin has cleared. There are 2 scenarios to this.

Insufficient Steroids

Most dermatologist will point out that there is insufficient or inappropriate amount of steroids in the course of prescription. This happens when you have not applied enough steroids to the affected area to bring the inflammation down. It might look like your skin has cleared but what you saw might still have inflammation happening underneath. Once you stop applying steroids on it, the inflammation will extend back to the surface. 

While we find that low dose of topical steroid may not be a bad thing to bring down inflammation fast, this method relies fully on your body’s ability to heal. In this instance, your body may not be able to heal as fast you want it to without external help.

Skin’s Inability to Heal

There are no medical prescription to help your skin heal faster. This is why steroids are a vicious cycle especially when you do not know when to stop. You also do not know if your inflammation has fully calm down and if your skin has fully recovered. This is the reason that many Eczema patients kept having flare ups and going back to the doctor who will in turn prescribe a stronger dose of topical or oral steroids for you.

Mummybrand had gone through extensive research and development to produce the best natural ingredients that will help your skin heal quickly without the use of steroids. This is a very important step to break the vicious cycle of steroids and countering Topical Steroid Withdrawal.

Can Eczema be cured?

Can eczema be cured?

  • Some children outgrow their eczema. Others continue to have eczema flares and remissions for life.

  • Eczema can be treated.

  • Mild eczema can often be treated with corticosteroids that you apply to the child’s skin.

  • When eczema becomes more severe, a dermatologist can consider other treatment options. Using bursts of stronger corticosteroids that you apply to the skin can be helpful as can light treatments and stronger medicine that works throughout the body.

  • The important thing to remember about eczema is that for many children eczema is a chronic (can be lifelong) problem. There is not an easy fix. At this time, there is not a cure. 

  • Working together with your dermatologist is the way to go. Your dermatologist can help you really understand when to use what medication in treating the eczema and other ways to best help your child.

Eczema Triggers

Trigger: Anything that aggravates your child’s skin. A trigger can either:

  • Cause a new eczema flare-up

  • Worsen existing eczema

3 key facts about eczema triggers

If your child has eczema, you should know the following:

  1. Many things can trigger eczema — including dry air, sweat, and stress.

  2. A trigger that causes one child’s eczema to flare may not cause another child’s eczema to flare.

  3. As a child grows older, eczema triggers can change.

Food to Avoid

Foods allowed

  • Meat, poultry, most fish
  • Small servings of wholemeal flour, wholegrain cereals, wheat bran and wheatgerm 
  • Most vegetables 
  • Small servings of beetroot, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks , parsnips, potatoes, spinach 
  • Fruit such as bananas, and occasional apples and citrus fruit, raw and stewed 

Foods to avoid

  • Eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, quark, butter, margarine 
  • Cereals, bread, flour, rice, pasta 
  • Canned food, especially spaghetti and baked beans 
  • Green beans, soya beans, broccoli, peas including split peas, canned vegetables 
  • Canned fruit, dried fruit, nuts, oatmeal
  • Cocoa, drinking chocolate, chocolate
  • Tea, coffee, soft drinks, cordials 

However, even with the above list of ‘approved’ food, you have to keep in mind if you have other skin conditions that may not be suitable for some of the food listed such as dairy and wheat for atopic dermatitis sufferers. Hence please seek your doctor advise and do a comprehensive food allergy test.

The Facts Behind Eczema (Video)

Continue Reading…