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What is Eczema?

The terms Eczema and atopic dermatitis are used interchangeably.
Dermatitis means inflammation of the skins' dermis.
(titis)- refers to inflammation.

Eczema is often described as itchy, dry, scaling, red, thickened, blistered and swelling skin.
Eczema can be environmental and hereditary. It is not contagious.

The skins barrier function is often compromised in eczema which increases individuals exposure to allergens this can often induce the inflammatory response and cause itching. It can also increase transdermal water loss, increase the susceptibility to infections, disrupt skin lipid production and cause an imbalance in the skin's pH. All these contribute to the characteristics of eczema.

Two main types of dermatitis.

Irritant contact dermatitis - Irritant contact dermatitis is a fast, almost instant reaction to direct contact to an irritant, for example a chemical, soap or a detergent. The reaction is usually confined to where the skin has come into contact with the allergen.

Allergic contact dermatitis - Allergic contact dermatitis is an allergic reaction. When the skin comes into contact with an allergen it induces an immune-mediated inflammatory response. The reaction is not often segregated to the area where the allergen came into contact with the skin and can affect other areas of the body. The response involves the immune system so it is more complex than irritant contact dermatitis.

Eczema can not be cured but it can be controlled. There are many products on the market that can be used to control eczema. I will mention a few in upcoming posts.

Thanks for reading.

BRITISH ASSOCIATION OF DERMATOLOGISTS (BAD). (2016). Atopic Eczema. [leaflet],

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