Common Forms of Eczema or Dermatitis

Common Forms of Eczema or Dermatitis

Eczema affects roughly 31 million Americans and is a label often assigned to describe several skin conditions (i.e., dermatitis). This rather painful and chronic condition develops in red, itchy, dry, scaly, and irritated patches of skin. Due to the recurrent nature of eczema, affected areas of skin can eventually take on a hardened, red, crust-like appearance prone to blisters and infection. Eczema is not contagious, however the condition is chronic, meaning patients are prone to regular flare-ups.

While eczema typically develops during childhood, it can crop up at any age and on almost any area of the body. The most common eczema prone areas are the face, the scalp, face, behind the ears, as well as the inner joints of the wrists, elbows, backs of legs, and the knees.

While eczema can describe several types of skin irritations, it generally occurs in two types:

1. Contact eczema

Also known as contact dermatitis, contact eczema is typically the result of an environmental irritation. Contact dermatitis is often a one-time occurrence triggered by an immune reaction, meaning once the source has been identified, the patient can avoid the allergic trigger. However, some individuals are known to develop chronic contact eczema due to long-term exposure. The most important thing to remember with contact dermatitis is to avoid itching and skin damage that may cause a bacterial infection. Common culprits responsible for contact eczema include the following:

  • Chemicals
  • Cosmetics
  • Fragrances
  • Cleaning products
  • Environmental toxins
  • Pollen
  • Or absolutely any substance that triggers an allergic reaction

2. Atopic eczema

Also known as atopic dermatitis, this second type of eczema is usually always chronic and inflammatory in nature. Atopic eczema is passed along through a genetic link (via FLG or the filaggrin gene), which means it impacts your skin structure if the FLG gene is inherited through a direct family member (usually a parent). This form of eczema usually crops up during infancy, but it can last well into adulthood. Patients with atopic dermatitis typically have:

  • Decreased natural antimicrobial compounds in their skin
  • Impaired immune response
  • Weak skin barrier (or leaky skin barrier)
  • Poor skin hydration
  • Regular allergic skin reactions
  • Increased skin infections

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