Eczema: Types, Causes, Signs and Symptoms and First Aid Treatment

Fact Checked

Eczema doesn’t pertain to a specific disease but rather it is a term for a group of medical conditions characterized by skin inflammation or irritation. Eczema can affect anyone from babies to children and adults but most common in infants and young children. Even though it is partially inherited, it is not contagious. Although it is almost never an emergency, it usually causes an itching discomfort to the person. With proper treatment, the disease can be controlled. Eczema can be used interchangeably with dermatitis.

Eczema Types

There are different types of eczema, with the most common type called atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis manifests upon exposure to triggers or allergens that include molds, pollens, soaps, perfumes and other allergies. Atopic dermatitis is said to be hereditary, with symptoms showing before the child turns one. The other types of eczema include:

  • Contact eczema
    • Localized reaction that affects only the skin area that has come into direct contact with an allergen
  • Seborrheic eczema
    • Of unknown cause
    • Characterized by yellowish, oily scaly patches of skin
  • Nummular eczema
    • Coin-shaped patches of inflamed skin commonly located on the arms, back, buttocks, and lower legs
  • Neurodermatitis
    • Chronic skin inflammation that initiates upon insect bites and develops severe irritation
  • Statis dermatitis
    • Skin inflammation on the lower legs generally caused by compromised valve functions of the veins in the legs
  • Dyshidrotic eczema
    • Skin irritation characterized by burning clear, deep blisters in the palms of hands and soles of the feet

Eczema Causes

The exact cause for eczema is unknown. However, it is known that certain triggers can lead to eczema. These triggers include:

  • Direct contact with the skin
    • Jewelry (nickel)
    • Clothing
    • Cosmetics
    • Perfumes
    • Soaps and detergents
    • Sweat
  • Environmental irritants
    • Molds
    • Pollens
    • Pollutants
  • Changes in temperature or humidity
  • Psychological stress

Eczema Signs and Symptoms

Eczema can manifest anywhere in the body. Signs and symptoms of eczema include:

  • Red rash on the skin
    • In infants, usually found on the forehead, cheeks, scalp, neck, forearms and legs
    • In children and adults, usually found on the face, neck, insides of the elbows, knees and ankles
  • Itching
  • Very dry, thickened or scaly skin
    • In fair skinned people, skin may appear reddish then turn brownish
    • In darker skinned people, may appear as pigmentation
  • Blisters

Eczema First Aid Treatment

Eczema First Aid Treatment
Eczema First Aid Treatment

Before performing first aid on any type of eczema, first ensure that the

following steps are approved by a doctor. Eczema can be treated at home with appropriate treatment. For mild cases of eczema:

  • Wash hands with soap and water. If gloves are available, make use of these.
  • Clean the sores on the skin. Rinse with water and soap.
  • Apply antibiotic ointments to avoid infection.
  • If there are blisters, do not pop them as this increases risks for eczema. Cover small blisters with plasters. Change dressings every day.

First aid treatment can be administered to eczema. Many online articles can be read on how to administer first aid on eczema, however, these articles do not substitute for the knowledge and training taught by first aid classes.

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