Back to Dermatology Diseases
Eczema, or dermatitis is a
term used to describe inflammatory diseases of the skin. It is composed of many variable
clinical and histological findings and is the final common expression
for a number of disorders which include
atopic dermatitis, allergic
contact and irritant contact
dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, nummular eczema, lichen simplex
chronicus, asteatotic eczema, and
Symptoms and clinical manifestations
Depending on the causes and type of dermatitis symptoms can arise
acutely (hours) or subacutely (days).
Primary lesions (the disease appearance at the very start) may include
papules, erythematous macules, and vesicles, which can coalesce to form
blisters, patches and plaques. This is usually associated with
intense itching (pruritus).
In severe eczema, secondary lesions (the disease
appearance later on) from infection or excoriation, marked by weeping
and crusting, may predominate.
Long-standing (chronic) dermatitis is often dry and
is characterized by thickened, scaling skin (lichenification). This
usually results from repetitive itching in subacute cases.
It is important to identify any possible contact allergens as well
as the type of dermatitis (see above).
For acute cases treatment consists of frequent cool wet
dressings, oral corticosteroids to control the inflammation.
Antihistamines are given to control the itching. Co-existing
infection can be treated with oral antibiotics.
Subacute cases can be treated with topical corticosteroids,
emollients for dry skin, antihistamines for pruritus and oral
antibiotics for those with infection. Coal tar agents can be used in
cases that are resistant to treatment.
Chronic cases are treated using topical corticosteroids. Some
cases that do not respond may require intralesional steroid
injections. Emollients are used to treat the dry skin.
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