October was Eczema awareness month! This skin condition is prevalent in children, but adults get it as well. The most common causes of eczema are allergies, genetics and environmental influences – for example, people with Atopic Dermatitis usually have what is called an Atopic Tendency, which means that they are susceptible to developing eczema, hay-fever and asthma. These conditions are closely linked, and are typically passed down through generations. A family history of these conditions is very useful when diagnosing atopic dermatitis in infants.
There are seven different forms of eczema – each with its own set of causes and symptoms. For more information on Eczema, please do not hesitate to contact our offices.
Atopic dermatitis is the most prevalent form of eczema and forms part of what doctors call the atopic triad. The other two conditions in the triad are hay-fever and asthma. Typically, people who have atopic dermatitis tend to have the other two conditions as well.
If you feel like certain things you touch cause red, irritated skin, you may have contact dermatitis. It comes in two forms:
- Allergic contact dermatitis, which is an immune system reaction to an irritant like latex or metal.
- Irritant contact dermatitis, which starts when a chemical or other substance irritates your skin.
Dyshidrotic eczema causes little blisters to form on parts of your body. It’s usually more common in women than in men, and the fluid-filled blisters can appear on your fingers, palms, toes, and the soles of your feet.
When eczema only affects your hands, it is called hand eczema. If you work in the cleaning or hairdressing industries, where you regularly use chemicals that irritate the skin, you are more likely to get this type of eczema. Exposure to chemicals typically triggers hand eczema.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a relatively common skin condition that typically affects the scalp. It causes scaly patches, red skin and stubborn dandruff. Seborrheic dermatitis can also affect oily areas of the body, such as the face, sides of the nose, eyebrows, ears, eyelids and chest. This form of eczema is caused by irritation to a yeast called Malassezia that is in the oil secretion on the skin. Seborrheic dermatitis symptoms may include:
- Dandruff on your scalp, hair, eyebrows, or facial hair
- Patches of oily skin covered with flaky white or yellow scales
- Crust on the scalp, face, sides of the nose, eyebrows, ears, eyelids, chest, armpits, groin area or under the breasts
- Red skin
The signs and symptoms may be more severe if you’re stressed, and they tend to flare in cold, dry seasons.
This form of eczema causes round, coin-shaped spots to form on your skin. Nummular eczema doesn’t look like other types of eczema, and it can itch a lot. Nummular eczema is triggered by a few things, the most common being reactions to insect bites or allergic reactions to metal or chemicals. Dry skin can also cause it.
Stasis dermatitis happens when in people who have blood flow problems in their lower legs, and causes fluid to leak out of the weakened veins into the skin. The fluid causes redness, swelling, pain, and itching. You may experience swelling, pain and a heavy feeling in the lower part of your legs, especially if you’ve been walking. You’ll likely also have varicose veins.
What if you have eczema?
If you’re experiencing eczema symptoms that don’t go away, see your doctor. As a dermatologist, Dr Ayanda Motau can diagnose and treat eczema. Most forms of eczema are triggered by an allergy, so it may be helpful to keep a journal to identify your triggers. Be sure to write down:
- what skincare products, chemicals, soaps, makeup, and detergents you use
- when you’re under stress
- what you eat and drink
- how long you spend in the bath or shower, and the temperature of the water
- what activities you do, such as taking a walk outside in the woods or swimming in a chlorinated pool
You should begin to notice relationships between your activities and your symptoms. Bring this journal to Dr Motau, and she can help you pinpoint your triggers and guide you through your treatment process.