What is Eczema?

Eczema is a skin condition that causes dry and itchy patches of skin. It’s a common condition that isn’t contagious (Cleveland Clinic, 2022). Many factors may cause your skin to overreact and flare up, such as stress, skincare products, detergents, and animals, to name a few (NHS, 2019). Knowing what will trigger your eczema is a considerable advantage. It is vital to stay away from known triggers that can be detrimental to your skin. 

It’s good to point out that psoriasis is often confused with eczema. Although they have some similarities, they are different skin conditions. You can read more about the difference between the two conditions here.

While eczema doesn’t spread from person to person, it can spread to various parts of the body (for example, the face, cheeks, and the neck, wrist, knees, and elbows). Scratching the skin can make eczema worse (MedicineNet, 2022). The challenging part is that eczema can cause you to want to itch and scratch your skin, but this can lead to more problems. Therefore, you need to find an eczema treatment that works for you. 

Symptoms & Types of Eczema

You may be wondering if what you’re dealing with is eczema or not. Be on the lookout for a few of the most common symptoms  so you can address them accordingly. We recommend to visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis.

The appearance of eczema can vary from mild forms, when skin looks dry and flaky, to severe forms, when skin can be extremely irritated and red. Other times, it will feel itchy, and scratching leads to a red rash or leathery skin (NHS, 2022). The other tricky part is that there are a few different types of eczema, which can make it harder to get under control since they vary in symptoms and treatment options. How long your eczema lasts depends on the type of eczema and its response to treatment (Everyday Health, 2021). A couple of the most common types of eczema include:

What Causes Eczema?

Several factors  can cause eczema, including:

  • Your immune system: If you have eczema, your immune system overreacts to small irritants or allergens in your environment. When you contact a trigger, your immune system assumes that these small irritants are foreign invaders, like bacteria or viruses, that can harm your body. As a result, the triggers activate your body’s natural defense system. Your immune system’s defense is to create inflammation. Inflammation causes symptoms of eczema on your skin.
  • Your genes: You’re more likely to have eczema if there’s a history of eczema or dermatitis in your family. You’re also at a higher risk if there’s a history of asthma, hay fever and/or allergies. 
  • Your environment: There’s a lot in your environment that can irritate your skin. Some examples include exposure to smoke, air pollutants, harsh soaps, fabrics such as wool, and some skin care products. Low humidity (dry air) can cause your skin to become dry and itchy. Heat and high humidity can cause sweating and that can make your itchiness even worse.
  • Emotional triggers: Stress can affect the health of your skin, which can cause a flare-up of eczema symptoms (Cleveland Clinic, 2022). 

Eczema Flare Up Triggers

Eczema affects each person diagnosed with the condition differently. What causes your symptoms to flare up might not trigger someone else with the condition (National Eczema Association, n.d.). Common triggers that cause eczema include:

Who Can Suffer From Eczema?

Eczema is considered a chronic health problems that can affect individuals of all ages but has become common in: 

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Additional Information About Eczema:

Eczema Association of Australasia

Highly regarded within Australian healthcare, the EAA has knowledge depositories and community education resources dedicated to the wide range of issues associated with the management, treatment and impact of Eczema.

Please note: The primary purpose of this page is to provide information regarding the skin condition eczema and not to provide medical advice or assistance. Content from this article has been sourced from reputable sources including National Eczema Association, The Eczema Association of Australasia Inc and Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy.

Links to these pages will be available throughout the article to benefit the user and do not constitute medical advice or treatment recommendations.