Eczema is a skin disease that is characterized by redness, inflammation and itching. If you are suffering from eczema, your skin may become dry and cracked in any region. However, the disease usually appears on your arms and on the backside of your knees. Eczema is a type of chronic disease and can occur in infants as well. In fact, it is more common in them, but in most cases, the symptoms disappear before they enter adult hood.
Eczema is a hereditary disease that is passed from generation to generation. The symptoms appear either because of sensitive skin or a poor functioning of the immune system. If there is a defect in the skin barrier, moisture may escape from the body, and germs find an easy entry in. However, the exact cause of eczema is still not known. Research indicates that the disease is triggered via stress, heat, sweat, cold temperatures, dry environment and dry skin.
The first sign of eczema is usually an itch, followed by a rash on the skin. The skin becomes dry and thickened on the neck, face, hands and legs. In children, the symptoms also appear on the knees and on the inner sides of the elbows. If you scratch any of these areas, your pores may open and crust may develop. This can make your prone to infection and worsen the condition.
Here is a detailed look at the most common symptoms of eczema.
Itch is one of the most initial symptoms of eczema, which is often followed by a rash. If the itch is treated well in time, there would probably be no rash. Though itch is an obvious symptom of eczema, it can also appear when you are suffering from other diseases, some of which may not be even be related to the skin. So although itch is common, it still cannot serve as a sure sign that you have eczema.
There is no obvious reason as to what causes an itch, but it is probably the fact that nerve fibers experience it and transmit the message to the brain. If you scratch the itchy areas, different nerve signals would be transmitted and you would feel pain rather than the itch. Doing this can be relieving but is definitely not recommended because it makes you prone to an infection, which would just worsen your eczema.
Skin becomes red when blood flow in an area increases. Beneath the skin lies a huge network of capillaries that are projected to the upper layers at times, which gives the skin a reddish tinge. The topmost layer of the skin is comprised of only dead cells and if it is cut, it will not bleed as there is no supply of blood. However, if the skin is suffering from an inflammation, the blood vessels widen, which increases the flow and thereby causes redness.
In some cases, redness is also caused by bacterial infection, particularly so when the infection extends beyond the surface.
The skin regions that suffer from eczema are inflamed and also appear thickened compared to the affected areas. Since eczema can cause you to constantly scratch your skin, it can thicken up as a sort of a protective response.
Generally, eczema appears on the inner side of the elbows, behind the knees, on the ankles and in any other area that is around the joints. The skin in all these regions is flexible, but eczema thickens it and so it does not bend easily. The effect of this is the appearance of fissures, caused as the skin splits up and cracks open.
If a skin piece affected by eczema is studied under the microscope, it can be noted that there is reduced adhesion between the cells. As a result, the skin becomes pore to scaling which makes it easy for germs to enter into the deeper layers through the gaps that are formed. The gaps also allow tissue fluids to escape from the cells and gather into a blister.
Blisters that are caused by eczema are often small, but not always. At times, large-sized blisters can also appear when the skin is affected or when the blisters are filled with pus.