Eczema causes itchy and swollen skin. A/Prof Pang Shiu Ming, Senior Consultant at the Department of Dermatology at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), discusses the different types of eczema.
What is eczema?
Itchy, swollen, dry skin, fluid-filled blisters, a red rash… do these sound familiar? These are the common symptoms of atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis, a skin condition which affects nearly 21 per cent, or one in five people in Singapore.
Atopic eczema is the most common form of eczema, an itchy skin disorder that can occur at any age. It is particularly common in babies and young children and can be caused by a combination of factors including a genetic predisposition, skin irritants, allergies, the environment and stress. Eczema is not infectious or contagious.
“The rash may appear red, wet and weepy or dry, thickened and scaly. Scratching often aggravates the rash,” says
A/Prof Pang Shiu Ming, Senior Consultant at the
Department of Dermatology at
Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the
SingHealth group. “The skin thickens and becomes darker after repeated scratching and rubbing. The rash can affect any part of the body, particularly the elbow bends, back of the knees and the neck.”
What are the different types of eczema?
This usually runs in families and is part of a group of allergic conditions such as asthma and allergic rhinitis.
There are two types, one seen in babies and the other one seen in adults. Areas affected tend to be the oily parts of the body, such as the scalp, face, groin and chest. Seborrhoeic eczema is usually not itchy in babies.
This condition is usually confined to the arms and legs. It consists of itchy, coin-shaped patches which may be weepy or scaly.
This is a condition of the legs, commonly found in the elderly and people with varicose veins.
There are two types – irritant and allergic.
- Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by exposure to soaps, detergents and water.
- Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by sensitivity to materials like nickel, cement, rubber, hair dye, perfumes and preservatives in toiletries and personal products.
Read on to learn about
using moisturisers and topical steroids to treat eczema.