Tuesday, 25 January 2011
According to the Eczema Society of Canada, about 15 to 20% of the population suffers from eczema. Maybe you know someone who has it—or you might even have it yourself. We spoke to dermatologist Dr. Alfred Balbul for the basics of the condition.
What are the characteristics of eczema?
“Eczema is characterized by a skin inflammation; dry lesions, as well as itchiness and red patches. In certain cases, the itchiness and redness are so intense that people scratch themselves until they bleed, which increases the risks of a second infection,” says Dr. Balbul.
What are the different types of eczema?
According to Dr. Balbul, the most common form is atopic eczema, which is linked to asthma, as well as hay fever.
Another type is ACD (allergic contact dermatitis), which occurs when the immune system reacts to a substance that comes in contact with the skin. “For example”, explains Dr. Balbul, “an allergic reaction can occur in the presence of nickel, which is often used in the manufacturing of earrings, press studs on baby clothes, belt buckles, and jean buttons.”
Other forms of eczema include irritant contact dermatitis (caused by contact with everyday substances), infantile seborrheic eczema (usually occurs in babies under the age of one), adult seborrheic eczema (which appears on the scalp like dandruff), varicose eczema (affects the legs and is caused by poor circulation), and discoid eczema (occurs suddenly, usually on the legs).
For more on the different types of eczema, check the Eczema Society of Canada’s website.
What causes eczema?
“Research on the causes of eczema is still in its first stages. In most cases, the affected person has a family history of the condition. An eczema diagnosis is more predictable if other members of the family also have eczema, asthma, or hay fever,” explains Dr. Balbul. “Although genes play a big part, the environment also has an influence. Numerous aspects of the condition remain unknown, and we hope to find out more from research in the future.”
Who is likely to suffer from eczema?
“Over two million Canadians, and up to 25% of children suffer from this skin condition,” says Dr. Balbul. “Most of these cases of eczema are diagnosed at a young age, and it’s said that about 40% of kids who suffer from it will grow out of the condition, while others will deal with it their entire lives.“
Dr. Balbul also tells us that the incidence of eczema in industrialized countries of the Western world has doubled in the last 50 years, the environment and essentially pollution being possible causes of the pathology.
How is the condition treated?
There is a “Triangle of Control” that it is recommended to follow in order to minimize symptoms and prevent future flare-ups: it illustrates that “skin hydration, medicated management, and education are the main pillars,” explains Dr. Balbul.
Tips for choosing a moisturizer
- Select a moisturizer that was formulated for sensitive or atopic skin.
- Avoid moisturizers that contain a large percentage of water (lotions), since they can have the opposite effect and dry up skin.
- Choose a brand you like as far as texture and skin tolerance—it’s the best way to avoid flares.
- Take the product’s price into consideration. Sometimes, a moisturizer that seems to be a better deal can end up costing more because you need a larger amount of it to obtain the same result.
- Select a product that bears the Eczema Society of Canada’s seal of approval: this helps you to find products that were formulated for people with eczema and / or sensitive skin. Aveeno, Cetaphil, and La Roche-Posay are brands who make products that bear the seal.
Note: This article was written By Mariève Inoue published January 24, 2011 from Divine.ca for informative purposes; if you suffer or think you may be suffering from eczema, please consult a dermatologist in order to seek proper treatment.