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Understanding Eczema

Eczema is an umbrella term for skin irritation and inflammation that can be further diagnosed as a specific sub-type depending on symptoms and causes. Eczema is sometimes referred to as its own condition, but it’s actually a group of skin conditions.

It’s often used interchangeably with another medical term dermatitis, which translates from Latin as skin (dermis) inflammation (itis).

Just like the name suggests, dermatitis or eczema results from skin irritation from allergens, irritants, or environmental conditions such as dry air. When dermatitis is triggered, the skin combats what the body interprets as a foreign and harmful substance. The result is a patch of skin – or several patches of skin that are red, itchy, and puffy. They may even blister and ooze.

Who Can Get Eczema?

It’s estimated that over 30% of people in the United States suffer from eczema. It’s common in young children who then often deal with it throughout life, going through periods of flare-ups followed by a period without symptoms. Sometimes as a person ages the symptoms decrease and may disappear entirely. For others, it’s a life-long battle.
Depending on the cause and type, people of any age can develop dermatitis. Those with a family history are more likely to develop it, as are people with seasonal or food allergies. Dermatitis is not contagious and does not spread through contact with a person who has it.