The words eczema and dermatitis often are used to talk about the same condition of itchy, dry, inflamed and irritated skin. So what is the difference between them or are they the same?
The answer is simple, eczema is one form of of dermatitis. And because it is the most common form, it is often used as a general term for all the different types of dermatitis.
What type of dermatitis is eczema?
Eczema is also known as atopic dermatitis. This is the long lasting skin condition that many of our children suffer from. It first appears on the face, inner elbows, back of knees, hands and feet but can affect different areas of the body at different ages.
Eczema happens when the skin barrier does not work as effectively as it should. This means the skin dries out and environmental allergens (which sufferers are hypersensitive to) irritate the damaged skin. When this happens, the immune system responds producing inflammation to attack the threat. This makes the skin red and itchy.
Those with a family history of allergic conditions, such as asthma or hay fever, are most likely to suffer from eczema. This is because their body is already on high alert to respond to allergens in the environment that are harmless to other people – such as pollen and dust.
What other types of dermatitis are there?
There are a few other types of dermatitis that our children can suffer from. These include:
- Contact dermatitis is a local reaction when the skin comes into contact with an irritant (such as scratchy clothing) or an allergen (such as grass).
- Seborrheic dermatitis is when the oil glands on the skin become inflamed and thick, yellow crusts form. It’s commonly known as cradle cap as it often appears on the scalp.
- Dyshidrotic dermatitis is when small fluid-filled blisters form on the hands and feet. These are extremely itchy and can also produce a burning or prickling sensation.
Sometimes these appear together with atopic dermatitis. It is important to get a diagnosis from your doctor so you can understand and manage what is happening, and minimise flare-ups.
How do I treat dermatitis?
Generally it is important to:
- protect the skin from things that could irritate it, and
- care for the skin using a skincare routine to ensure it maintains the best condition and suffers less flare ups
Applying natural, soothing and nourishing products to the skin every day will build up its protective barrier and stop it from drying out. It is important to do this daily and stick to a skincare routine for your child, even when there is no flare-up. Doing this will keep the skin well hydrated and protect the skin barrier to improve the overall condition of the skin and lessens symptoms of eczema.
This blog post was brought to you and your bub with love and care by Julia and the itchy baby co. team. x
Disclaimer: Information provided is of a general nature only and you should always consult your medical professional.