Eczema - Dermatitis
Eczema and dermatitis are often interchanged with one another, as they are words that describe a type of skin inflammation.
The uncontrollable itching episodes, the bloody discharge, and pain can be intolerable and exhausting to go through. Eczema does not only affect the skin, but it can affect one's quality of life, causing poor sleep often resulting in poor performance in school/work.
At Nielsen Clinic (Calgary), we help develop a treatment plan specific to your current health needs and skin care needs. While eczema can be hard to treat, not all hope is lost as we help our patients get to the root cause of their skin problems.
Below are sections offering information for common questions as well as various elements of eczema.
+ What is Eczema (Dermatitis)?
Eczema or dermatitis is a reference to a particular group of inflammatory skin disease. Eczema (dermatitis) shows up on the skin with irritated, red, rough skin that is itchy and may even have bumps that are fluid-filled which may ooze and crust. An intense itch often accompanies the rashes, resulting in a negative impact of daily activities including sleep. The itching experienced by eczema sufferers is perhaps the most physically and emotionally exhausting part of eczema.
There are two main types of dermatitis, atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis.
Is the most common type of eczema seen by doctors. While atopic dermatitis may start at a young age it can affect any age group. Most often atopic dermatitis affects infants and young children. It starts with an itch on the skin which is then followed by inflamed skin, usually behind the knees, elbows, face, neck and hands.
It is not uncommon for these children to develop asthma or seasonal allergies (hay fever).
There are two types of contact dermatitis; allergic or irritant dermatitis, both of which may occur at any time in life. In general, when your skin comes into contact with an allergen your skin will usually not overreact to it. However, for those who suffer from contact dermatitis your outer layer of skin becomes irritated and inflamed resulting in damage of the skin.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis: usually occurs 48 hours after your skin comes into contact with a substance that your skin is sensitive to, resulting in inflammation of your skin which causes the skin rash and itch.
Irritant Contact Dermatitis: is more common that allergic contact dermatitis. Frequent hand washing, soaps, detergents and cleaning products are the most common cause of irritant contact dermatitis.
+ What causes Eczema (Dermatitis)?
Eczema has several factors that result in its development. Three main factors may lead to the development of eczema.
Since the 1970's eczema has been on the increase. While it not known why there has been a significant increase in eczema, the “hygiene hypothesis” perhaps offers the best answer.
The “hygiene hypothesis” is based on the theory that the recent reduction in the frequency of childhood infections may have paved the way for our immune system to overreact to our environment causing eczema, asthma, and allergies.
Factor 1 - Genetics
Eczema is passed through the genes, as it is estimated that at least 50% of patients who suffer from moderate to severe eczema may have a defect in their gene coding for a protein found in your skin.
The protein is called filaggrin, which helps maintain your skin's protective barrier. When this protein is not functioning appropriately, your skin barrier allows various types of allergens and bacteria to enter inside the skin resulting in inflammation of your skin as well as a rash which shows up as a result of your immune system trying to protect your body from these invaders.
Factor 2 - Environment
Factors such as clothing, soaps, perfumes, makeup, pets, and plants can cause an allergic reaction when your skin gets into contact with them.
Foods also may play a role in your skin's health as your skin is a reflection of your inner health and wellbeing. Usually, food sensitivities are more common in young children with severe eczema. The foods that are most common triggers are cows' milk, eggs, soya, wheat, fish, and nuts.
Factor 3 - Emotional Wellbeing
Psychological stress is a major factor in most diseases. In the field of dermatology, stress has the greatest influence on the outcome of a patient's treatment.
Emotional stress causes inflammation to occur inside your body. As a result of the increase in inflammation, your skin, which is already susceptible to inflammation, develops eczema (dermatitis).
Finding a way to manage your stress and treat the physiological impact of stress may help improve the treatment outcome of your eczema.
+ Who gets Eczema (Dermatitis)?
Eczema can show up at any age and may reoccur at age.
Infants (2 months to 2 years): Sixty percent of children can have their first eczema outbreak by their first birthday.
Childhood (3 to 11 years): Ninety percent can have their first eczema outbreak by their fifth birthday.
Teens (12 to 20 years): Often clears 90% of the time by their eighteen birthday.
Adults (20+ years): Fifty percent of patients will have a recurrence as an adult.
+ Physical & Emotional Effects of Eczema (Dermatitis)
Eczema can have both physical and emotional negative effects. Those who suffer from eczema know all to well how the intesnse itchness and skin rashes can be overwhelming to expierance.
Negative Physical Effects of Eczema (Dermatitis)
The frequent scratching of the skin surface can result in the skin to break, causing open wounds and sores that often become infected. As a consequence of the skin wounds, there can be mild or severe infections.
If there is swelling, redness, pain, oozing or crusting of your skin you should see a skin specialist as soon as possible.
When your skin becomes infected with herpes simplex virus (viruses that can cause cold sores) it is called eczema herpeticum. Eczema herpeticum shows up with painful blisters that are filled with fluid and/or pus and is often accompanied with a fever, fatigue, and swollen glands.
If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor promptly.
Neurodermatitis is a complication of eczema that occurs after prolonged periods of scratching your skin. Due to the area of the skin being frequently scratched, the skin starts to thicken and has a leathery appearance. In addition to the thickening of the skin, the skin can also have a permanent change in color.
If you experience intense itching as well as noticeable changes in your skin thickness and color you should see your skin specialist, who may be able to help reduce the severity of neurodermatitis.
Although rare a complication of severe eczema, there can also be complications of the eye that lead to permanent eye damage.
See your skin specialist as soon as possible to avoid any complications and do not self-treat rashes on your eyes as the skin around your eyes are not only sensitive but fragile and susceptible to further damage.
Negative Emotional Effects of Eczema (Dermatitis)
Eczema has a profound effect on not only the patient who sufferers from eczema, but also on the patient's family members.
Social interaction, relationships, work, school and family can be negatively affected not only due to the painful and intense itching episodes that can leave a person feeling irritable, but the physical presence of eczema can also affect one's self-image.
Patients who have eczema may feel embarrassed about their rashes and find that it impacts their social life. Mostly, eczema sufferers experience intense itching episodes at night time, leaving them fatigued in the morning which reduces their productivity and may lead to irritability amongst their peers and loved ones.
Natural Eczema Treatment - NIELSEN CLINIC 3R's™ (Remove, Restore & Rejuvenate)
Remove Inflammation & Itch
Address skin inflammation by helping reduce the immune system's over response as well as reduce the severity and frequency of itching episodes.
Restore Normal Skin Function
Restore the skin's normal function by reducing its sensitivity to potential allergens.
Rejuvenate Your Skin
Help restore the skin's ability to retain moisture and restore the skin to its normal healthy functions.