Adults Get Eczema Too!

by Mel on July 27, 2010

Eczema is one of the most common conditions affecting children in the western world yet it is rarely associated with adults.

This belief leads to many cases of eczema in adults going undiagnosed.  Whilst the eczema often presents in different forms in adults it is still eczema with many of the same symptoms seen in childhood eczema – dry skin, itching, red scaly rash.

The most common forms of eczema seen in adults include Atopic eczema, Dyshidrotic eczema, Nummular eczema, Varicose eczema and Contact Dermatitis.

Atopic Eczema

Atopic eczema is most commonly seen in adults who as a child suffered from the same condition.  Whilst most Atopic eczema resolves in childhood some continues on into adulthood.

In these cases a rash appears anywhere on the body and is accompanied by dry skin and an unbearable itch.  The flare-ups are triggered by allergy and the condition has a familial tendency.

Dyshidrotic Eczema

Dyshidrotic eczema appears as clear fluid filled blisters (vesicles) on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. This recurrent skin condition runs in families and is usually the result of an allergy.

Common allergens causing an outbreak of Dyshidrotic eczema include prolonged contact with water, deodorant soaps, strong detergents, solvents, stressful situations and rubber / latex gloves.

Although there is no known quick cure, Dyshidrotic eczema usually resolves without problems. Excessive scratching can however result in thickening of the skin, which is easily irritated.

Nummular Eczema

Nummular eczema also known as Discoid eczema has no known cause or cure.  It most frequently occurs in adults with extremely dry skin.  Occurrence is increased during times of cold weather, low humidity, stressful situations and overly frequent bathing.

It appears as coin shaped, inflamed, scaly lesions, which are very itchy.  As the condition clears the lesions heal from the inside out creating a red ring similar in appearance to ring worm.  This appearance frequently results in misdiagnosis.  Accurate diagnosis requires a doctor consultation.

Varicose Eczema

Also known as Gravitational Eczema or Stasis Eczema, Varicose Eczema affects the lower legs and is more common in middle aged to older people with poor circulation in the lower legs. The skin in this area becomes blotchy, inflamed, swollen, itchy and discolored.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis usually occurs on the hands and is very common in adulthood.  As in Atopic eczema contact dermatitis is often the result of an allergy (allergic contact dermatitis) but more commonly it will be the result of the skin coming in contact with an irritant (Irritant contact dermatitis).

Contact dermatitis causes the skin on the hands to become dry, red and inflamed.  As avoidance of the irritant is often difficult the hands frequently become cracked and painful.

Treatment Of Adult Eczema

Regardless of the type of eczema the treatment is the same.  As the skin is always excessively dry regular moisturizers are essential.  A topical cream to reduce the rash and itch is also required.

Traditionally steroid creams were used however today the preferred treatment are natural over the counter creams. Avoiding known allergens or irritating substances will also reduce flare-ups.

If over the counter treatments do not clear the eczema professional advice should be obtained.  It is also important to have any rash diagnosed by a doctor to ensure the correct treatment is being used. Varicose eczema will always require medical treatment as the poor circulation will need treating for the condition to be brought under control and to prevent serious complications.

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