ALLERGIC CONTACT DERMATITIS (ACD)

ACD develops when the body’s immune system reacts against a substance after contact with the skin. The allergic reaction often develops over a period of time through repeated contact with the substance. For example, an allergic reaction may occur to nickel, which is often found in earrings, snaps on baby’s undershirts, belt buckles and jean buttons. Reactions can also occur after contact with other substances such as perfumes and rubber. In order to prevent repeated reactions, it is best to prevent contact with anything that you know causes a rash.

ATOPIC DERMATITIS (AD)

AD is the most common form of eczema and is closely linked with asthma and allergic rhinitis (eczema, asthma, and allergic rhinitis make up the atopid triad). It can affect both children and adults, usually running in families. One of the most common symptoms of AD is itching (pruritus), which can be almost unbearable. Other symptoms include dryness of the skin, redness and inflammation. Constant scratching can also cause the skin to split, leaving it prone to infection. In infected AD the skin may crack and weep and develop pustules. Treatments include emollients to maintain skin hydration and steroids to reduce inflammation.

IRRITANT CONTACT DERMATITIS (ICD)

This is a type of eczema caused by frequent contact with everyday substances, such as detergents and chemicals, which are irritating to the skin. It most commonly occurs on the hands of adults and can be prevented by avoiding the irritants and keeping the skin moisturized. It commonly occurs in patients who have atopic dermatitis.

INFANTILE SEBORRHEIC

A condition that affects babies under one year old, the exact cause of which is unknown. Also referred to as cradle cap, it usually starts on the scalp or the nappy area and quickly spreads. Although this type of eczema looks unpleasant, it is not sore or itchy and does not cause the baby to feel uncomfortable or unwell. Normally this type of eczema will clear in just a few months, though the use of moisturising creams and bath oils can help to speed this along.

ADULT SEBORRHEIC

Characteristically affects adults between the ages of 20 and 40. It is usually seen on the scalp as mild dandruff, but can spread to the face, ears and chest. The skin becomes red, inflamed and starts to flake. The condition is believed to be caused by a yeast growth. If the condition becomes infected, treatment with an anti-fungal cream may be necessary.

VARICOSE

Varicose eczema affects the lower legs of those in their middle to late years, being caused by poor circulation. Commonly the skin around the ankles is affected, becoming speckled, itchy and inflamed. Treatment is with emollients and steroid creams. If left untreated, the skin can break down, resulting in an ulcer.

DISCOID

Is usually found in adults and appears suddenly as a few coin shaped areas of red skin, normally on the trunk or lower legs. They become itchy and can weep fluid. Usually discoid eczema is treated with emollients (and steroid creams if necessary).