What Causes Eczema?
Eczema is caused by some aggravating factor to the body and the immune systemís response to it. Aggravating causes can be contact with plants, drugs, with some chemical component in metals, dyes and clothing, ultraviolet light, or even with substances contained in make-up. Any of these categories can elicit a type IV delayed hypersensitivity immune response and result in eczema.
On the cellular level, there is a degranulation of mast cells as well as infiltration of lymphocytes. T-cells will bring about the arrival of many lymphokines which in turn recruit inflammatory cells to the area of intrusion. This process accounts for the edema and erythema noted at the beginning of the immune response. Quite often nothing definitive for what causes eczema can be found.
What Is Eczema?
The term eczema is often used synonymously with the term dermatitis. The distinction between them is mostly important only to the medical professional. To the lay person, they both just mean an inflammatory condition of the epidermis and the dermis. The difference in medical terms is that eczema is more commonly used for the inflammatory process originating from within the body, like eczema due to an atopic genetic predisposition. Dermatitis is often applied when something from the outside is introduced onto or into the skin, causing a reaction, as in a contact dermatitis or an allergic reaction to medicine. The results and symptoms are the same or indistinguishable in either case.
Eczema can be acute or chronic.
Another phase, subacute eczema, can also be found in eczematous dermatitis. Acute eczema refers to symptoms that appeared within the past several days to several weeks. Chronic eczema had to be present for much longer to be considered thus and can often be confused with psoriasis since the have similar symptoms. The acute phase is the most serious and uncomfortable for a patient. Subacute is a milder form of the acute manifestation.
Signs And Symptoms Of Eczema
It manifests itself in several different ways. These are not what causes eczema, but what you will see when you have it. Almost every instance includes pruritus and edema, however. Pain and burning sensations in the affected skin have also been reported. Erythema and edema nearly always apply to the progression of eczema. This means that the affected area is red and swollen and usually very pruritic.
Scaling as well as fissures of the skin can be a symptom of eczema. Blistering happens frequently, often beginning in one area and spreading outward. As the blisters dry out, round, brownish plaques often result.
This happens often during the cold months and is seen on legs and trunks. With chronic eczema, the affected areas had already had time to respond to the irritating factor and the consistent scratching or rubbing, by building up thicker layers of epidermis, lichen simplex chronicus.
What Treatments are Available?
When deciding on the proper treatment of eczema, the particular trigger of this condition, what causes eczema, has to be diagnosed. There is no treatment where one treats all for eczema. Generally, when the offending substance has been detected, the first rule is to stay away from that poison ivy, stop wearing that particular necklace, or change your laundry detergent.
The second action may be to prescribe antibiotics for weeping lesions that may have become infected from excoriation. Cold water compresses can be advised to reduce the edema. Corticosteroid ointment or cream several times a day will reduce the pruritus. Depending on the severity, Prednisone may be prescribed to be taken orally.
A skin care alternative is to use an eczema treatment cream or Emu Oil. Emu Oil is an anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory commonly used to treat skin redness, inflammation, dermatitis and rashes - all eczematic symptoms. Emu oil for eczema should be applied directly on and in the immediate area around the affected tissue. If effective, typical results will be seen within a week. In some cases, continued application is required to subdue and control the symptoms.