Most experts say that people tend to take skin eruptions lightly without knowing that some eruptions can be eczema, which needs professional diagnosis and treatment. A lot of eczema cases get worse because people tend to self diagnose and self medicate. According to Dr. Deepti Rana, Senior Consultant, Dermatologist, Laser and Aesthetic Physician, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Noida, the prevalence of eczema in India is estimated to be around 20-30% of new patients in a skin outpatient department (OPD).“People often resort to improper methods for soothing eczema. Many individuals mistakenly assume that any itchy skin condition is either a fungal infection or eczema. As a result, they may self-medicate with over-the-counter (OTC) medications and frequently use high-potency steroids without understanding the potential side effects and risks associated with the unmonitored use of these medications.”
Dr Vichitra, Consultant, Department of Dermatology, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad further adds, “One patient out of every 5 patients I see in my OPD, has some or the other form of eczema. However, the exact prevalence of eczema in India may vary depending on the population studied and the geographical region and such studies cannot be considered a true reflection of the prevalence of the disease in the community. One patient out of every 5 patients I see in my OPD, has some or the other form of eczema.”
Confusing signs of eczema
The signs of eczema can be confusing because they can vary from person to person and may resemble other skin conditions. The most common presenting symptoms of eczema are itching, oozing, crusting, redness, few tiny red spots, swelling, shares Dr Deepti.
Dr Vichitra adds, “There are certain signs that indicate a person should consult a doctor, specifically a dermatologist, regarding their skin condition. If a rash is recurrent, persistent, intensely itchy, oozing, or crusty, it is advisable to seek medical attention. Additionally, if the rash follows a seasonal pattern or is worsening, it is important to consult a healthcare professional.”
Signs of eczema can sometimes be confusing because they can vary greatly from person to person and resemble other skin conditions.
Why do people get eczema?
Eczema can be due to internal factors like nummular eczema, stasis dermatitis due to varicose veins etc or due to external agents like chemicals, hair dye, sanitisers, detergents, artificial jewellery, some plants, (irritant contact dermatitis) or due to both as in seborrheic dermatitis, atopic dermatitis etc.
All these forms can have different symptoms and presentations. Patients can have different combinations of the signs and symptoms like itching, dry sensitive skin, rough and scaly areas, red patches, thickening and dark patches over skin, blisters, oozing etc. Based on the duration of eczema, it can be acute eczema which presents as – oozing, redness itching, burning and blister formation. Chronic and long-standing eczema can present as thick and dark skin (lichenification and hyperkeratosis).
Also, there are some skin conditions which look like eczema but aren't, like psoriasis, ringworm (tinea), lichen planus etc. Eczema shares symptoms with other skin conditions, such as itching, redness, and irritation which can be present in psoriasis, fungal infections, and other inflammatory disorders of the skin. These symptoms can make it challenging to differentiate eczema from other dermatological issues, especially if there are no distinct visual cues.
Eczema flare-ups can be triggered by various factors like allergens, irritants, stress, weather changes, or hormonal fluctuations. Identifying the specific triggers and patterns can be confusing, as they can vary among individuals. Also, symptoms may appear at one site initially and then spread to other areas, making it difficult to pinpoint the cause.
Untreated eczema can also lead to insomnia or depression.
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