Eczema is an inflammation of the top layer of the skin (epidermis), which is characterized by often intense itching and can make everyday life a misery.
Triggers / causes of eczema
Eczema can have a wide variety of triggers, for example:
- Atopic eczema - better known as neurodermatitis - often begins in childhood, but can also appear for the first time in adulthood. In many cases it is hereditary and changes its localization and morphology in the course of life. Often "hay fever" or asthma (atopy) exist in addition to atopic eczema.
- Dishydrotic eczema is characterized by small fluid-filled blisters on the palms and soles. It often occurs in the setting of atopy, but can also be caused by contact dermatitis or fungal infection.
- Seborrheic eczema occurs in areas of the skin that are rich in sebaceous glands - therefore, the face or body folds are often affected.
- Contact eczema is triggered after sensitization by certain allergens (e.g. nickel, ingredients of cosmetics or cleaning agents) or contact toxins and is usually limited to the skin areas that have come into contact with the substance.
Although there is a wide range of possible triggers, eczema all has similar symptoms. Patients experience excruciating itching with redness and scaling of the skin. In severe cases, swelling and blistering of the skin may also occur.
If eczema progresses chronically, there is a thickening and "coarsening" of the skin, a so-called lichenification.
The diagnosis of eczema is a visual diagnosis and can be made directly by a dermatologist.
However, the search for the trigger can be difficult and lengthy. The first step is always a detailed discussion with the patient and a physical examination. If necessary, this is followed by further diagnostics, e.g. by means of allergy tests.
The therapy depends on the type of eczema.
In addition to consistent care of the skin, various local therapeutic agents in the form of creams and ointments are available. In the acute stage, anti-inflammatory substances (preparations containing cortisone, calcineurin inhibitors) are usually used. If bacteria or fungi are involved in the development of eczema, antibiotic or antifungal products can be used for therapy.
If local treatment options are not sufficient, there is the possibility of systemic therapy.