Eczema encompasses a wide range of skin conditions that can affect all age groups, and whose symptoms range from dry, hot and itchy skin, to broken, raw and bleeding skin. The causes of eczema depend on the particular type of eczema but often is a result of a sensitivity to allergens in the environment (atopic eczema) or irritants in the environment (allergic contact dermatitis). The causes of certain types of eczema remain to be explained, though links with environmental factors and stress are currently being explored. Eczema is not contagious, and though the inflammation of eczema can be reduced with treatment, the skin will always need extra care and be sensitive to flare-ups.

The following are the main types of eczema and a short description of each:
  • Atopic eczema - the commonest form, affects children and adults and usually runs in families Symptoms include unbearable itchiness which can cause the skin to split, overall dryness of the skin, redness, and inflammation.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis - reaction of the skin to something which has touched it.  This is a reaction that often develops from repeated contact over a period of time with the same substance.
  • Irritant contact dermatitis - caused by frequent contact with everyday substances such as chemicals or detergents which irritate the skin. This most commonly occurs on  the hands of adults.
  • Varicose eczema - caused by poor circulation. It affects the lower legs of people in their middle to late years, commonly the skin around the ankles becomes itchy, inflamed, and sometimes speckled
  • Discoid eczema - usually found on chest or lower legs of adults and appears as circulular shaped areas of red skin which can become itchy and leak fluid
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