Eczema

eczema in babies

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview of eczema

Environmental pollution has detrimental effects on different parts of the human body, especially the skin. Skin is the most sensitive part of the body that gets easily damaged due to seasonal changes, climatic variations and physiological reactions within the body. These factors can collectively give rise to serious skin disorders. One of the potential threats to healthy skin is “Eczema”, which affects millions of people all over the world. Incidences of skin diseases are more prevalent in underdeveloped countries having poor hygienic conditions. This has driven the health units in all countries to spread mass awareness related to healthy lifestyle in order to address the problem and curb the occurrence of epidemic outbreaks.

 

What is eczema?

eczema in babiesEczema is a severe form of skin disorder in which the skin surface becomes rough and inflamed with the formation of reddish, fluid filled and itchy blisters which cause a lot of pain on scratching or rubbing.

Even after complete recovery, the blisters may leave permanent painful scars on the body.

This disease is not only limited to the adult population, but is also affecting children and infants at present.

Recent research findings (by World Health Organization) show that nearly 80-90% cases of Eczema are diagnosed by the age of 5. It is one of the most severe forms of skin diseases that might lead to skin cancer or carcinoma ,if  left undiagnosed.

 

What causes eczema?

A number of etiological factors are responsible for eczema in both children and adults. These are elaborated below-

  • Extremely dry skin with occasional white flakes (dead cells)
  • Loss of immune capacity of skin
  • Bacterial infection (mainly by Staphylococcus species)
  • Blockage of sweat glands and ducts due to accumulation of excess waste (dead cells and dirt) on the skin pores.
  • Prolonged unprotected exposure to harmful radiations (U.V rays of sun or radiations used during chemotherapy)
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals present in the environment (Eg: Lead, mercury)
  • Allergic response to certain irritants such as pollen grains, animal danders
  • Release of toxic chemicals (cytokines, histamine) in the bloodstream due to some existing diseases
  • Certain medications such as diuretics (for high blood pressure) or corticosteroids
  • Mental or physical stress
  • Exposure to frequent change of temperature or climatic conditions (from hot to cold climate)
  • Hormonal imbalance during puberty, pregnancy or menopause (drop in oestrogen level)
  • Use of greasy cosmetics or ointments
  • Diet deficient in essential vitamins (Vitamin C, D) and iron
  • Frequent use of hard soaps
  • Existing skin disorders
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol and tobacco
  • Bathing regularly with very hot water
  • Sharing items used by a skin disease patient (towels, bed sheets)

 

What are the main warning signs and symptoms?

Eczema manifests itself through some prominent symptoms which should be addressed immediately to facilitate timely diagnosis and treatment. The eruptions are spread all over the neck, elbows, behind ears, palm and sole of feet. The main symptoms of Eczema are as follows-

  • Reddish patches over large areas of the skin
  • Reddish or brownish elevated, crusty papules
  • Constant itching of the skin (pruritis)
  • Fluid-filled blisters or vesicles which release pus on pricking
  • Dry whitish flakes (dead cells) which worsen on scratching
  • Acute inflammation of the skin in the infected areas.
  • Leathery texture of the skin in advanced stages
  • Extreme tenderness and touch sensitivity of the skin
  • Appearance of cracks and fissures on the skin surface
  • Burning sensation of the skin, especially when touched

What are the different types of eczema?

Based on etiological factors, eczema can be classified into two broad categories –

Idiopathic: In this case, the specific cause of Eczema cannot be determined. Hence this type of Eczema will be categorized into 3 subtypes depending on the degree of infection. These are-

Acute: It is usually benign in nature and can be accompanied by edema (excess fluid in tissues), erythema (dilatation of blood vessels) and vesicles (tiny fluid-filled blisters).

 

Subacute: In this case oedema and erythema are observed. It is also accompanied by Acanthosis (thick and rough skin texture) and Parakeratosis.

Chronic: It occurs when acute Eczema persists for more than one week and is characterized by lichen (big lesions) formation.

Eczema with an identified cause

This type of eczema can be identified by the exact pathogenesis and are of the following subtypes-

Contact: It is caused due to contact with specific allergens and appears as giant reddish patches and lesions.

Atopic: It is characterized by severe skin inflammation, scale formation and secretion of fluid from blisters.

Seborrheic: Yellowish greasy patches appear on the skin in this condition.

Nummular: Large, round and crusty spots are visible on the skin which causes intense itching.

Dishydrotic: It causes irritation of the skin of palms and soles of feet which bear itchy and burning blisters.

 

Genetics of Eczema

Studies by research groups on dermatology and skin diseases show that a person having a family history of skin diseases is 3 times more likely to develop skin ailments in his lifetime.

For example, Ichthyosis is a skin disorder similar to eczema, characterized by thickened and leathery skin which occurs when a person has a family history of skin diseases.

 

Diagnosis

In case of any kind of skin disease, diagnosis is performed by either a dermatologist or an allergist. Different skin tests are performed among which the most important is the RAST (Radioallergosorbent test).

 

Treatment & Prevention

There is no definite cure for eczema.  But there are certain measures which can help in diminishing symptoms and controlling flare ups. Topical corticosteroids, in the form of ointments and lotions, can help reduce itchiness and inflammation of the skin.  If there is a bacterial outbreak along the breaks in the skin, antibiotics can help treat the secondary infections. Additionally anti-fungal creams might also be helpful. If the itching is too much and is causing troubled sleep, antihistamines can be prescribed that will not only reduce the itching sensation, but will also help in getting better sleep.

One should avoid environmental irritants such as scented soaps and bubble baths, wool, nylon, sand, grass etc to prevent inflammation of the dry skin. Common indoor allergens such as dust and dust mites, pollens, animal hair and dander, foods that might cause allergies (Shellfish or nuts) can also cause eczema. This skin condition worsens with heat, so it is important to refrain from hot baths, electric blankets, or in general hot climate. Use unscented soaps and moisturizers to prevent dryness and itching. In severe cases of eczema, immunosuppressant medications might be prescribed.  Refrain from self-medication.

Low FODMAP diet for eczema

Consumption of short-chained carbohydrates and sugar alcohols found in a wide range of foods are called FODMAPs. Here the foods in high FODMAP, if consumed in a large quantity get fermented by the gut bacteria repeatedly and cause problems such as gas, bloating, pain, diarrhea, and constipation.

FODMAPs can be broken down into

F – Fermentable.

O – Oligosaccharides. These include fructans and galactic.

D – Disaccharides. These include lactose.

M – Monosaccharides. These include fructose.

A – and

P – Polysaccharides. These include sorbitol, xylitol, and mannitol.

Dairy products such as cream cheese, buttermilk, cream, cow’s milk etc, nuts such as cashews, and sweeteners such as cakes, cookies, pastries etc. may increase the symptoms of eczema. Foods such as fish, broccoli, kale, spinach, eggs etc. can help in reducing the symptoms of eczema.Following a low FODMAP diet, can help in reducing inflammation, promote gut health, and make the immune system strong, thereby managing the symptoms of eczema.

Despite arduous research works done on skin diseases till date, there is no complete cure for Eczema, although partial healing can be ascertained. Incidences of Eczema have increased by 3 times since the 1960s (source: Academic Unit of Dermatology Research, University of Sheffield). Nearly 85% of children develop Eczema before the age of 5 years. This is severely affecting the socio-economic backbone of all nations and should be addressed immediately.

 

Facts

  • Eczema is a commonly occurring skin condition affecting around 30 million Americans. It is found in 20% of children and 3% of adults worldwide.
  • Children and young adults with atopic eczema have also shown similar patterns in food-allergies.

Facts

  • Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema prevalent in over 20 million people in the USA alone.
  • If both the parents have eczema, the chances of the off-spring developing this condition are as high as 80%.

Facts

  • Tobacco smoking or consumption is a significant external irritant causing eczema.
  • In some people, the flaring up of eczema can lead to missing out on school/work and hampering of day-to-day activities.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • To get relief from intense itching use non-medicated petroleum jelly on the affected area.
  • Make sure that your skin doesn’t get dry. Use moisturizers and drink plenty of water.
  • Instead of usual bath soaps and body washes, use unscented soaps which tend not to irritate the skin.
Don'ts
  • Scratch the skin with pointed things like nails, these may lead to cuts and abrasions and invite secondary infections.
  • Processed foods such as refined flour, sugar, fried items, and junk.
  • Scrub or exfoliate the affected skin area.

 

 

 

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Vagus nerve: 7 health benefits of stimulating the “gut-brain” connection As a matter of fact, there are two vagus nerves namely the left and the right but is…
Appendix pain: Recent findings on this not-so vestigial organ The exact function of the appendix is still not clear. Some consider it as an organ that once…
EEG
Electroencephalogram – EEG EEG or electroencephalogram is a diagnostic tool used to access the functioning of neurons and brain activity to…
BoneMarrow-Biopsy
Bone Marrow Biopsy Bone marrow biopsy is a diagnostic procedure where a small amount of bone marrow is extracted from hip…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
oral hygiene tips
6 shocking consequences of bad oral hygiene (and how to avoid them) Did you know bad breath is not just turning off, but also harms your body in ways you…
gout diet purines
Gout Diet : Get relief from painful joints by eating these foods Are you a victim of this painful condition? Are medications providing only short relief? Find a list of…
Plexus Slim: Is this pink slimming drink the ultimate one-stop fat burner? How effective is Plexus Slim in helping people lose weight? What are its ingredients? Can it be safely…
Inhale oxygen, exhale worries: The top breathing exercises and how to perform them Performing the breathing exercise is like becoming mindful of how you breathe.  Here is a list of breathing…
LFT-test
Liver Function Test – LFT LFT or Liver Function Test is a blood test used to determine the levels of hepatic enzymes which…
Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD) test Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) is an enzyme that is found in every cell of the body and it plays…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
carbamazepine
Carbamazepine / Tegretol test The carbamazepine is a drug that is used to treat epilepsy and the carbamazepine test is performed to…
HSV-1_IGG
Herpes Simplex Virus I (HSV)-IgG Test Herpes simplex virus I(HSV)-IgG is an Immunoglobulin protein that acts as an antibody & stays in the blood…
cardioliin antibody iga
Cardiolipin Antibody (ACL) – IgA test Cardiolipins are phospholipids that are constituents of the platelets and the cell membranes. The IgA test detects the…
antiHEV IgM test
Anti hepatitis E virus (Anti HEV) IgM Test Anti HEV IgM test determines the level of the IgM antibodies in the blood, The disease is often…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking for fun and…