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Types of Eczema

Eczema is a common problem that causes the skin to become inflamed. People often also call it dermatitis.atopic dermatitus

Eczema comes in many forms. But the different types of eczema tend to cause these symptoms:

  • Itching. The itching can be intense. The damage to the skin during eczema is often due to scratching.
  • Scaling. The surface of the skin can flake off, giving the skin a rough, scaly appearance.
  • Redness. The affected skin may bleed and appear blotchy.
  • Fluid-filled blisters . These can ooze and form crusts.
  • Cracking. Severely affected skin may develop painful, deep cracks, also called fissures.

Depending on the cause, eczema may flare up and cause severe symptoms. But it can also become a chronic problem with less intense symptoms.

Here's a look at the types of eczema and their treatments.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema. It often affects people who also have:

  • asthma or hay fever
  • family history of eczema, asthma, or hay fever
  • defects in the skin barrier, allowing moisture out and germs in

Atopic dermatitis usually begins during infancy or childhood. But it can strike people at any age.

Most often, it affects skin on the:

  • face
  • hands
  • feet
  • inner elbows
  • back of the knees

Over time, scratching the skin can cause it to become thick and red. Scratching can also create wounds that become infected. Irritants that can make symptoms of atopic dermatitis worse include:

  • soap
  • rough clothing
  • household chemicals

Foods, dust mites, and other allergy triggers can also make symptoms worse.

Treatments for atopic dermatitis include:

  • Products to lubricate and moisturize the skin
  • Steroid creams and ointments
  • Drugs that control the immune system
  • Antibiotics to treat infections
  • Ultraviolet light, alone or with a drug called psoralen


Contact Dermatitis

There are two types of contact dermatitis:

  • irritant contact dermatitis
  • allergic contact dermatitis

These types of eczema can develop after a substance damages the skin. These include chemicals and frequent hand washing. 

Irritant contact dermatitis can develop after touching a strong irritant one time or by coming into contact with the irritating substance repeatedly.

Contact dermatitis can also develop after a person touches an allergy-triggering substance, such as:

  • nickel
  • cosmetics
  • poison ivy

The hands are especially vulnerable to developing contact dermatitis. People can develop contact dermatitis even if they don't have atopic dermatitis.

Treatments for irritant contact dermatitis include:

  • moisturizers for the skin
  • steroid medications

Treatments for contact dermatitis from allergic triggers also include steroid drugs. These are rubbed on the skin or taken as a pill.

For either type of contact dermatitis, antibiotics may be necessary. Avoiding future contact with the irritant or allergy trigger is also important. Wearing gloves can help protect the skin on the hands, which are often affected.

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