The word ‘eczema’ is a general term to describe what is happening inside your skin. When you have an eczematous rash, what you see on your skin is a red, scaly rash that can be moist, crusty and even studded with blisters. Eczema also itches. While the causes of eczema can differ, the rash results in similar structural skin changes. Understanding these changes will help you figure out the proper skin care so that it heals.
There are different types of eczema. Some of the more common types include:
- hereditary eczema called atopic dermatitis
- dry skin eczema (nummular and asteototic eczema)
- dandruff and facial seborrheic dermatitis
- allergic contact dermatitis (such as poison oak, nickel allergy, fragrance allergy etc.)
- irritant dermatitis (such as dish pan hands)
The first, most important point is that skin with eczema has a weakened skin barrier and inflammation. There are little breaks in the skin of eczema and that is why blisters can form and the skin may feel moist. In dermatology, we call this ‘spongiosis’, meaning the cells of the top skin layer look like sponges with fluid-holding spaces in-between. The cells get stretched apart by the fluid and the skin looks like a sponge when viewed under the microscope.
These little breaks and fluid-filled spaces also mean that skin with eczema is vulnerable. It needs to be protected from harsh chemicals or environments. That’s because harsh chemicals like strong soaps, household cleaners, drying wind etc. can get through the skin to dry and irritate it. No matter what the cause of the eczema, the structural changes and the fragility of the skin barrier are common to all types of eczema. That means the skin care to heal eczema is also similar.
To learn more about eczema skin care, see my new Dermatologist’s Advice Tips for Eczema.
It is important to not let eczema or its flare-ups discourage you. I have curated resources and articles to give you all you need to treat and care for eczema properly.