Skin Care
Eczema and Dermatosis
By Dermik Laboratories
Apr 24, 2004, 00:57

About dermatoses

Dermatoses are skin eruptions, of which there are many different types. Dermatitis, an inflammation of the skin, is the most common of the dermatoses. The term eczema is often used interchangeably with dermatitis.

All forms of dermatosis may progress through three stages:

1) Acute dermatoses, which can occur suddenly, with symptoms of redness, itching, and swelling that may progress to scratch marks, oozing, and blisters. These symptoms usually subside in a short time.

2) Chronic dermatoses, in which the symptoms range from small oozing blisters and crustiness to thickened, discolored, scaly, and painfully cracked skin. These symptoms usually develop slowly and persist over long periods of time. Treatment may be required for each flare-up of the condition.

3) Subacute dermatoses, which are characterized by scaliness, peeling, scratch marks, and redness but rarely display oozing and blistering.

Steroid-responsive dermatoses are those conditions that respond to treatment with a topical corticosteroid
, primarily due to their anti-inflammatory response.


Contact dermatitis is an inflammatory response by the skin to an outside irritant or allergen. Substances that cause contact dermatitis are commonly found in household items, clothing, cosmetics, and plants. For this reason, most people will experience contact dermatitis at least once during their lifetime.

Irritant contact dermatitis is produced by a substance that has a direct toxic effect on the skin. After exposure to an irritant, a skin reaction can occur immediately or gradually after repeated exposure. Examples of common irritants include acids (certain toilet bowl and drain cleaners, dishwasher detergents), alkalis (ammonia, lye), cement, turpentine, and paint thinners.

Allergic contact dermatitis triggers an immunologic response that causes an inflammatory reaction called a skin allergy. Rhus poisonous plants, such as poison ivy, poison sumac and poison oak are the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis. Other common triggers include hair coloring dyes, fragrances, leather, rubber compounds (gloves and shoes), and nickel (jewelry and clothing accessories).

Itching and burning are common in both categories of contact dermatitis.

With acute and mild exposure, there is typically redness, swelling, and oozing. If left untreated, the condition can result in dry, thickened, cracked skin.

The webs of the fingers, back of the hands, and forearms are common sites of contact dermatitis.


Atopic dermatitis is usually associated with a personal or family history of asthma, allergic rhinitis, or atopic eczema, accompanied by chronic or recurrent dry, extremely itchy, inflamed lesions. Atopic dermatitis is predominantly a disease of infancy and childhood. The disease course is variable but most often the symptoms become less severe with age. In some patients, the condition may persist into adulthood, with the lesions most frequently occurring on the face, neck, upper chest, and flexural areas. Adults with atopic dermatitis usually have a history of childhood eczema.

Itching is the primary symptom of atopic dermatitis. Constant scratching leads to a vicious cycle of itch-scratch-rash-itch. If you suffer from atopic dermatitis, you need to break the scratch-itch cycle, since scratching causes the lesions to become thickened and heightens the risk of infection.

Neurodermatitis is a chronic eruption of the skin that results from continuous scratching. The lesions always occur within reach of the scratching fingers and, usually, there is only one area of involvement.

The use of moisturizers, in conjunction with topical corticosteroids, help to rehydrate the skin and reduce the itch.

You may find it helpful to avoid environmental factors that trigger itching, including irritants such as wool clothing, soaps, detergents, lanolin, emotional stress, food allergies, extremes of hot and cold, and sweating.

Other symptoms of atopic dermatitis include a reddened face with paleness around the mouth, darkened circles under the eyes, and additional lines on the palms of the hands.

About Eczema

Eczema (say: X-EE-MAH), also known as atopic dermatitis, is a non-infective, inflammatory and chronic skin disorder that can cause dryness, inflammation, itching, blisters and infections. The name eczema is taken from the Greek word that means, "to come to a boil," which describes the effects the disorder can have on the skin.

At any given time, approximately 10% of the adult population and as many as 20% of children less than 12 years of age may be affected by eczema. The disorder occurs frequently in babies and young children, especially if there is a family history of allergic conditions such as asthma and hay fever. Similarly, the chronic, or adult form of eczema, usually occurs in persons with a family history of allergies.

Hand-and-Foot Eczema

Hands and feet are frequent sites of inflammatory eruptions. Hand eczema occurs most frequently in persons who frequently have their hands immersed in water, such as food preparers, nurses, or florists. The warm, moist conditions in shoes provide an ideal situation in which foot dermatitis may also flourish. These eruptions often become chronic and can be severe. Chronic hand-and-foot eczema is similar to other forms of dermatitis in appearance.

Dyshidrotic Eczema

Dyshidrotic eczema is a special vesicular type of hand and foot eczema. The condition most often occurs on the fingers, palms, and soles of the feet.

The condition is characterized by the sudden onset (1-3 days) of deep-seated, clear vesicles, which resemble the pearls in tapioca pudding. In the later stages, scaling, thickening, and painful fissuring typically occur. Secondary bacterial infection is very often a complication with dyshidrotic eczema. In many patients, the condition worsens during the summer months.

Nummular Eczema

Nummular eczema is a chronic dermatitis characterized by inflamed, coin-shaped, oozing, crusted, and scaling lesions which are often accompanied by vesicular eruptions (blisters). The lesions may be quite itchy.

These lesions are usually widespread on the arms and legs but may also be found on the trunk and buttocks. The disease is most common in older people, especially those with excessively dry skin. Nummular eczema is a chronic condition that frequently worsens in times of emotional stress. With treatment, you may experience periods of remission; however, frequent flare-ups may occur unless the skin is kept adequately moisturized and hydrated.


How are eczema and dermatitis treated?

In addition to treatment which may be prescribed by your doctor, general skin-care guidelines should be followed whenever possible:

1. Cleanse with only mild soaps or soap substitutes.

2. Moisturize frequently.

3. Avoid constant skin wetting; wear protective gloves whenever possible


This article is taken from Dermik Laboratories Website, used with permission.

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