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7 Types Of Eczema That Can Affect Both Children And Adults
PHOTO BY Courtesy of Bayer Consumer Health
  • Editor’s Note: This article is intended for information purposes only. It does not substitute a doctor. It is vital to always consult a medically trained professional for advice that suits your needs best.

    Eczema typically starts in early childhood, but it can also strike any time during adulthood. Good thing there are ways to manage the different types of eczema that parents may have already learned from caring for their children with such skin conditions.

    Actress and host Chesca Garcia, for instance, developed eczema when she was already a mom to her and her husband Doug Kramer's three children: Kendra, Scarlett, and Gavin. Scarlett, 10, has eczema since she was a year old.

    "Mine depends on the weather," Chesca said during an online event organized by Bayer Consumer Health, makers of Elica and Bepanthen products formulated to address symptoms of eczema. She and Scarlett are brand ambassadors of Elica.

    Chesca explained, "When it’s extremely cold, that’s when my skin gets flaky. Even when I don’t scratch it, it gets flaky and dry. It ends up bleeding."

    What is eczema?

    The National Eczema Association (NEA) in the United States sayss that eczema is the term for a "group of conditions that cause the skin to become itchy, inflamed and red in lighter skin tones or brown, purple, gray or ashen in darker skin tones."

    It adds that eczema is very common, with over 31 million Americans suffering from some form of this skin condition. However, eczema is not contagious, so you can't get it by having a physical contact with someone who has it.

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    The exact cause of eczema is not known yet, but medical experts believe a combination of genetics and environmental triggers may bring about this skin condition. When triggers, such as irritants or allergens alert the immune system, an inflammation occurs. The inflammation hence causes the symptoms associated with eczema.

    Types of eczema

    There are seven different types of eczema, according to the NEA, and you can have more than one of them on your body at the same time. Each type has its unique triggers and corresponding treatment. That's why experts' advice is to consult a specialist to identify the particular type and be treated accordingly.

    Atopic dermatitis

    Atopic dermatitis is "part of a group of allergic conditions, known as the 'atopic march,' that includes asthma, hay fever, and food allergies." It is the most common type of eczema. If your child has one of these conditions, he or she is most likely to have another atopic condition. Atopic dermatitis is also known as asthma of the skin or skin asthma.

    The first signs of atopic dermatitis can be "redness or spots that you can usually see on the arms, on the face, and on the legs," according to Dr. Leah Manio, country medical lead of Bayer Philippines.

    "Usually it can get very hot and very itchy. Pag nag-peak s’ya, ’yun talaga ang intensity na very, very itchy ’yan. Meron tayong tinatawag na itch-scratch cycle. Because of the inflammation, kakati s’ya. But if you actually scratch it, it actually leads to further damage of the skin.

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    "That’s the reason why lalong mamamaga. The skin will become more inflamed. So it actually becomes a vicious cycle. It can actually leave the skin with scars and spots kasi hindi naman naghi-heal completely.

    "Unfortunately, there really is no cure for eczema. What we can really do is find ways to manage the symptoms. Not just as they happen, but even before they happen."

    Contact dermatitis

    Contact dermatitis occurs when the skin comes in contact with a material that triggers an allergic reaction and it suddenly becomes irritated or inflamed. It's neither linked to genetics nor to other allergic conditions, like hay fever or asthma.

    There are two main types of contact dermatitis: irritant and allergic. Unlike the allergic type that involves an allergic reaction by the immune system, the irritant type  happens when skin cells are damaged by exposure to irritating substances. These include solvents, detergents, soaps, bleach or nickel-containing jewelry.

    Neurodermatitis

    Neurodematitis is a common type of eczema that begins with intense itching and followed by vigorious scratching. It is usually confined to one or two patches of skin, and doesn't spread to the rest of the body. The most affected areas are the feet, ankles, hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck, and scalp. But the eyelids, as well as can the genital and anal areas, can also be affected.

    This type of eczema usually hits adults between the ages of 30 and 50, with women as the most affected. Likewise affected are people already afflicted with contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis, including, but rarely, children.

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    Dyshidrotic eczema

    Dyshidotic eczema is also known by several names, such as foot-and-hand eczema, palmoplantar eczema, vesicular eczema, and pompholyx. The latter name means “bubble” in ancient Greek language. It can be a single flare-up, but it’s more common to come and go over long periods of time.

    Triggers include:

    • Metals, particularly nickel
    • Stress
    • Seasonal allergies like hay fever, and to hot, humid weather.
    • Sweaty palms can trigger the rash, as well as activities or jobs that entail frequently getting the hands wet

    Nummular eczema

    Nummular eczema is also called discoid eczema and nummular dermatitis. Its name is derived from the Latin word meaning “coin," as its characteristc spots appear to be shaped like coins on the skin.

    Aside from the coin-shaped lesions on arms, legs, torso, or hands, the other symptoms can include:

    • Itching and burning
    • Lesions that are oozing liquid or have crusted overred, pinkish or brown, scaly and inflamed skin around the lesions

    Its causes aren’t clear, but triggers can include very dry or sensitive skin and trauma to the skin from insect bites, scrapes or chemical burns.

    Nummular eczema may also develop as a reaction to some other types of eczema and their triggers, such as contact dermatitis and nickel. When it appears on the legs, it can be linked to poor blood flow in the lower body and the stasis dermatitis those circulation problems can cause.

    Seborrheic dermatitis

    Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic form of eczema. Meaning, it comes and goes for long period of time. It is characterized by itchiness and redness of the skin, especially for the naturally oily. It affects all ages, but is more common among babies (known as cradle cap) and adults from 30 to 60 years old.

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    Here, the fungus Malassezia plays a big role, as it causes the irritation in the sebaceous glands on the scalp. It then elicits an immune response in the form of a scaly rash due to dry skin.

    Seborrheic dermatitis typically attacks body parts that tend to be oily, such as:

    • Scalp, particularly in babies
    • Chest and back
    • Face and forehead
    • Around the nose
    • Behind the ears
    • Belly and belly button
    • Eyebrows
    • Arm and leg folds

    Stasis dermatitis

    Stasis dermatitis is called other names, such asgravitational dermatitis, venous eczema, and venous stasis dermatitis. It happens when there is poor circulation in the lower legs. The medical term is venous insufficiency, which occurs when the valves in leg veins that help push blood back to the heart weaken and leak fluid. As a result, water and blood cells pool in the lower legs.

    This type of eczema can affect the feet or lower legs on one or both sides, and quite rarely, the other parts of the body.

    Symptoms include:

    • Ankle swelling
    • Orange-brown speckles of discoloration also known as cayenne pepper spots
    • Redness in lighter skin tones that may appear brown, purple, gray or ashen in darker skin tones
    • Itching
    • Scaling
    • Dryness
    • A heavy or achy feeling after long periods of sitting or standing
    • Increased risk of developing contact dermatitis, which is also one of the seven types of eczema

    Read here on ways to manage eczema.

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