What is Eczema? How Does It Affect You?
Eczema is a condition where the skin becomes inflamed, itchy, or has a rash-like appearance, leaving the skin feeling rough and dry always. Certain types of eczema in Malaysia can also cause blisters.
Back in the 1990s, the prevalence of eczema among Malaysian children was 9.8%. Today, it has climbed to 13%-14% and is expected to be over 20% by the year 2022. The vice president of the Dermatological Society of Malaysia, Dr Noor Zalmy, explains that it’s due to the country’s development.
That said, there are seven types of eczema – atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, nummular eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and stasis dermatitis. It’s fairly a common condition worldwide, but it’s not contagious. So you can’t catch it from someone who has eczema.
Eczema can develop during childhood, adolescence, or adulthood, and can range from mild to severe. Although the exact cause of eczema remains unknown, you can still develop eczema due to a combination of factors such as your genetics and triggers from the environment.
When an irritant or allergen from either inside or outside your body triggers the skin’s defective immune system, it can cause inflammation of the skin, resulting in flare-ups. Each time you’re exposed to allergens which you’re sensitive to, it’ll be an endless cycle of flare and remission.
Additionally, this condition can cause you to scratch your skin due to the itchiness. This will cause your skin to be eroded that turns into an ulcer and later cause lichenification. Ahead, we’re sharing the symptoms of eczema Malaysia.
Symptoms of eczema
When it comes to eczema, note that the symptoms differ for everyone. Similarly, different types of eczema may appear in different areas of your body at different times.
However, one common symptom is the itchiness you feel on your skin which can range from mild to severe. In some cases, you may even develop extremely inflamed skin and scratch it until it bleeds.
Aside from that, the following are some of the symptoms that you should look for:
- Dry, sensitive skin
- Inflamed, discoloured skin
- Rough and leathery patches of skin
- Swollen areas
If you experience all of these symptoms or just a few, the best way to find out whether you have eczema is to consult with a medical professional.
How eczema affect the quality of life?
While eczema or atopic dermatitis isn’t a life-threatening skin condition, it can still affect your quality of life, be it physically, socially, or emotionally.
You see, the biggest concern for anyone with eczema is the physical appearance. Bear in mind that eczema is a condition where patches of skin become inflamed due to irritants or allergens in the environment.
Once the skin becomes inflamed, you’ll naturally scratch the spot to temporarily relieve the itchiness. However, when the itch is intensified, you may unknowingly scratch it until your skin bleeds, causing scabs to form on your skin.
In some cases, eczema can cause your skin to be discoloured, due to the patches of inflamed skin. And because of that, you’re constantly aware of your appearance and often hide behind any outfit that can cover your skin condition especially when you are having hand eczema.
Not only that, but eczema can also affect your sleep and performance of daily activities at school or work.
Aside from its effects on physical appearance, eczema can also affect you emotionally due to the public’s lack of knowledge. In some cases, you may experience considerable discrimination and social isolation when you’re out in public.
Because of that, you may be depressed and anxious as time passes, leading to a lifetime struggle with your sense of worth and self-esteem. Besides, your family may experience a considerable emotional distress which can be attributed to sleep disturbance, anxiety, and stress.
How eczema can be treated?
While there’s no cure for eczema, you should note that it’s treatable given the right medication and treatment to heal the affected skin and prevent flares of symptoms. Here are some ways for you to treat eczema.
Among the recommended medications are:
- Topical corticosteroid creams and ointments – Anti-inflammatory medications to relieve the skin’s inflammation and itchiness.
- Systemic corticosteroids – Prescribed medications which are available as injections or oral tablets.
- Antiviral/antifungal medications – To treat fungal and viral infections.
- Antihistamines – Reduces the risk of scratching during the night.
- Moisturisers – Reduces loss of water in the skin and boost skin repair.
- Phototherapy – Involves exposure to UVA or UVB waves to treat widespread or localised eczema on the body.
If medications aren’t your thing, you can try the following to alleviate the symptoms.
- Take lukewarm baths
- Apply your moisturiser regularly
- Wear soft, breathable clothing
- Pinch or pat your skin instead of scratching it
- Use a humidifier in dry or cold weather
- Understand the triggers of your itch
- Use a mild body wash
As there’s no cure for eczema at the moment, you can still manage the symptoms with prescribed medications and proper home care. If you’re looking to understand better about your skin condition, it’s best to consult a medical professional.