Have you ever wondered what eczema is? Also referred to as dermatitis, eczema is a term used to describe different kinds of skin inflammation. Dry, reddened skin, intense itching, and thick, crusty skin can are the most common symptoms of eczema.
Although the exact cause is unknown, an abnormal function of the immune system is believed to be responsible. Environmental allergens, irritants (sweat, detergents and perfumes) and certain weather conditions are known to trigger some forms of eczema in many people.
Based on the type and severity of the skin condition, the appearance of eczema varies from person to person. In adults, neck, ankle, knee, elbow and facial eczema are common. In infants, the skin condition is usually found on the cheeks, forearms, legs, scalp and neck.
What Causes Eczema
Similar to psoriasis, your immune system seems to play a role. Scientists have not been able to determine the exact cause, but they think it may be an abnormal response of your body’s immune system perhaps due to an allergic tendency or an overactive inflammatory response.
The term “eczema” generally includes many different types of inflamed skin conditions including atopic eczema, atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis. The term ‘atopic’ means you experience an allergic response to irritating substances. Generalized itchiness, also called pruritis, is very similar to eczema in that it also positively responds to UVB light therapy.
Eczema is frequently a lifelong condition, and you may experience flare-ups from time to time. Many people who have this skin condition also often suffer from allergies or hay fever, or have members in their families who do.
With proper use, phototherapy (also referred to as light box therapy) is one of the most common and successful methods for treating eczema and gaining relief, without the side effects of drugs or steroids. Doctors may suggest either UVA (Ultraviolet A) light combined with the drug psoralen, or UVB (Ultraviolet B) light when prescribing phototherapy treatment.
The UVB light produced by UVBioTek’s™ phototherapy equipment provides an eczema treatment either at your dermatologist’s office, or in the privacy of your own home and can be used for different types of this skin condition including facial flare-ups.
*Phototherapy for atopic eczema with narrow-band UVB
“Management of atopic dermatitis has been less than satisfactory. Conventional therapy has not been particularly successful, and prolonged use of topical corticosteroids and systemic immunosuppressant drugs (eg, corticosteroids, cyclosporine, azathioprine) can result in severe cutaneous and systemic effects. We decided to evaluate the effect of UVB at 311 nm to treat 5 patients with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis. In each patient a mean cumulative dose of 9.2 J/cm2 was applied over a mean of 19 irradiations. Narrow-band UVB notably reduced atopic dermatitis after 3 weeks in all patients. (J Am Acad Dermatol 1999;40:995-7.)
However, our data indicate that narrow-band UVB phototherapy is a treatment protocol effective for patients with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis and favorably accepted by the patients.”
Source: Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology Volume 40, Number 6, Part 1
Types of Eczema
There are many different kinds of eczema – some more prevalent than others. The most common type is atopic dermatitis, a chronic condition that usually begins in infancy. Itchy, inflamed skin is a symptom of atopic dermatitis that can come and go if triggered.
A localized inflammation that causes redness, itching and burning where the skin is in contact with an allergy-causing substance. Skin reactions to detergents, cosmetics and other irritants tend to trigger this condition. A skin reaction to poison oak is another characteristic of contact eczema.
This type of dermatitis is usually chronic and most commonly affects the arms, back, buttocks and lower legs in coin-shaped patches of irritated skin. This disease usually occurs in elderly men.
Yellow tinged, oily and scaly patches of skin on the scalp, face and sometimes other parts of the body are common symptoms. Dandruff and cradle cap are both examples of seborrheic dermatitis. Although the cause of this skin condition is unknown, it tends to run in families and can be aggravated by weather conditions, emotional stress and infrequent cleansing of the scalp.
A chronic skin inflammation caused by a ‘scratch-itch’ cycle. The condition starts when a localized itch becomes extremely irritated when scratched. This eczema results in scaly patches of skin on the head, lower legs, wrists or forearms and tends to be more common in women than in men. Stress can worsen neurodermatitis by turning the skin thick and leathery over time.
A type of dermatitis that is usually related to the circulatory problem – venous insufficiency. It develops on the lower legs and generally occurs in older men and women.
A skin condition that develops on the palms of hands and soles of the feet. Symptoms include clear, deep blisters that itch and burn. Dyshidrotic dermatitis is usually more common during the spring and summer months.