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Eczema Part 1: The Low-Down

Posted Dec 16 2008 12:00am 1 Comment
Personally, I've lived with Eczema my entire life and it has been migrating to various parts of my body. I've wanted, for a very long time, to do a post regarding Eczema but I couldn't quite find simple-to-understand information about it until now. Courtesy of Buds for Baby, I've plucked out some vital information from their Eczema Care handbook with hope that those of you with Eczema (or if you know people who has it) can learn more about this very common yet somewhat difficult-to-live-with skin problem. I'll add in my personal battle with Eczema here and there alongside some pictures, which I warn that they may look rather gross to some.

I'm dividing this topic to several parts. This first part would be the general information of Eczema. The next would be regarding treatment and management. The following would be on the products that I've used over the years to help relieve (no cure yet) eczema.

What Is Eczema?

Eczema is the common name given to atopic dermatitis, an inflammation of the upper layers of the skin. The term eczema is broadly applied to a range of persistent or recurring skin rashes characterized by redness, skin ederma, itching and dryness, with possible crusting, flaking, blistering, cracking, oozing or bleeding. All these can cause skin inflammation, and in worse cases scenarios, result in raw wounds caused by involuntary scratching of itching and irritated skin. If left untreated, severe eczema can lead to skin cancer. Although eczema can sometimes look unpleasant, it is however, not contagious.

If you can relate to those symptoms, please read on.

When in Life Does Eczema Occur?

Eczema occurs more commonly on babies and young children. However, half of those effected will grow out of it by the time they're 6 years old and the rest, by their teens. In later life, reappearance can occur during adulthood and this normally happens on the hands, at times of stress.

*I've had eczema ever since I was a baby. The symptoms stopped briefly during kindergarten years but flared up again during primary school and has never gone away since. The worse times was when I was in my teenage stages.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Eczema?

The rash may appear on the inner forearm, behind the knees, and opposite the elbows. Some people may get the rash on the eyelids, palms and soles. Skin that is chronically covered with the rash over time will become dry, thickened and browner.

Teenagers and young adults get the rash most often in the bend of the elbow, back of the knees, ankles and wrists, and on the face, neck, chest, and palms and soles.

In some people, inhaled substances (such as dust mites, animal allergens and pollen) can cause flare-ups of eczema. A bacterail, fungal or viral infection also can cause flare-ups. Food allergies may trigger eczema as well.

Eczema is not contagious. Sometimes, though, scratching can lead to a bacterial infection. A Staphylococcus aureus bacterial infection of an area covered by eczema can cause impetigo, a skin infection that is contagious. Most often impetigo occurs on the face, especially around the mouth and nose. It begins with tiny blisters that burst and may ooze fluid, then become crusted.

* The bolded words are areas where I've had eczema before in my lifetime. Those not included up there are the fingers, lips, nipples, under the breast, butt cheeks and bikini line. I currently only have eczema on my fingers, lips and occasionally, my eyelids and nipples.

** The inflammations can be so severe to the point that I am unable to write or wear undergarments. Sweat would highly aggravate the rash causing it to sting. The itchiness has been so intense that I would have to take anti-hystamine (anti-itch) pills that cause drowsiness. In worse cases, an anti-hystamine injection would be needed or I'd be crying from trying to refrain from scratching at boderline of self-mutilation.

*** There are several factors that can cause my eczema to flare up: Dust, certain consmetic ingredients, STRESS (extremely significant), food (apples, artichoke, beef, crab, prawn, shellfish) and viral infections (cold sores).

Exam time!! So so itchy! And this is what happens when I "over-scratched"

How is Eczema Diagnosed?

To diagnose eczema, a medical professional would normally conduct an interview session to collect information pertaining to the patient's family medical history, especially pertaining to allergies. If food is the suspected cause, the doctor may advise to remove milk, egg, peanut or other suspected foods from their diets to see if the symptoms disappear.

Skin testing can help confirm that a food allergy is triggering flare-ups. And extract of the suspected food substance is used to scratch or prick the skin. If the patient is allergic, the area becomes red and swollen. But some people may have a positive reaction to a food that is not causing eczema.

* Many doctors and dermatologists have informed me that eczema is very much linked with asthma as most eczema patients either also suffer from asthma or have family members that have asthma and/or eczema. In my case, asthma and eczema are prominent on the paternal side. Thankfully, I did not get the 2-in-1 package.

** I have not undergone a food allergy test but I've went for a patch test. The results were positive for soaps and detergent

Current state. Not intense but still highly irritating. How can lipgloss look good on those lips!

What Aggravates Eczema?

People with this hereditary skin condition tend to have hypersensitive skin that reacts to allergens such as dust mites, pet fur, and grass pollen. These allergens tend to result in the skin flaring up.

For existing rash, dryness can cause the skin to be itchy and irritate the affected area. Exposure to drying agents such as washing detergent and soaps as well as cold air are often the cause. Stress is an important factor that aggravates eczema, especially in adults.

Food and ingredient allergies are subject to individuals and may vary from one person to another.

* I do have very sensitive skin but thankfully, I'm not allergic to my pets! Dryness can really cause the rash to itch like crazy. Stress is the worse of all so during exam periods, my fingers and lips would be horrribly battered up.

Stay tuned for the next two parts coming soon.
Comments (1)
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Hello there!! My right hand (unfortunately the one i do everything with) has what you have on your fingers too!! I know its eczema but with the blistering and the oozing and open wounds and thats even when i DONT scratch! :( Its on all 5 of my fingers and worse on my middle finger front and back and my skin is really dark and discolored. I cant even make a fist all the way or open my hand all the way. What have you used to clear up your eczema? Please help. My email address is If you have any suggestions please send me an email since im always checking them! Thank you and goold luck on your eczema jounrey as well! -Bree'Ana-
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