Eczema means “inflammation of the skin”. It is derived from the Greek term EKZEIN, which means “breakout or boil over.” This phrase was used by ancient physicians to denote “any fiery pustule on the skin.”
When you hear the word “eczema,” you might wonder, “What is it?” “What type of people are prone to get eczema? “Which age group is the most vulnerable?” “What are the signs and symptoms?” and, most importantly, “what should you do if you have eczema?” Whether you have this disease or are caring for someone who does, this article is a comprehensive reference to all you need to know about eczema in people of color and how to deal with it in your daily life.
WHAT IS ECZEMA?
It is a chronic inflammatory skin problem characterized by red, dry, itchy lesions that bleed clear fluid when scratched and stiffen into scaly patches. Although the specific aetiology is unknown, genetic and environmental variables are thought to play a role in the disease’s pathogenesis. Our skin’s microscopic barriers are compromised, and our immune systems become hyper-responsive to even most mild stimuli. Tobacco, air pollution, stress, and woolen items are all variables that contribute to the onset and progression of the disease. It comes in a variety of forms, some of which include:
– Atopic dermatitis.
This is the most prevalent form of eczema. It affects children that may or may not be resolved as they grow older. Children with eczema are more likely to develop food sensitivities, hay fever, and asthma.
– Contact dermatitis.
Contact Dermatitis is a type of eczema caused by contact with a specific substance. It’s further divided into categories based on the triggers.
– Irritant Contact Dermatitis:
Acids and alkalis, strong shampoos, soaps, detergents, dyes, and other irritants can cause pestilent contact dermatitis symptoms to emerge. Irritant Contact Dermatitis is a serious condition that affects persons who work in factories that make such products.
– Allergic Contact Dermatitis:
People with Allergic Contact Dermatitis are allergic to anything relating to cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, nickel and cobalt, latex, glue, and other allergies are among them.
– Seborrheic dermatitis.
This type of eczema mostly affects your scalp and is characterized by red, scaly spots on the head that cause severe dandruff. Affected areas include the face, sides of the nose, eyebrows, ears, eyelids, and chest.
– Dyshidrotic eczema.
Dyshidrotic eczema, also known as Pompholyx Eczema, is most frequent in adults between the ages of 20 and 40. Severe itching and blisters on the hands and feet characterize this condition, which usually fades after a few weeks.
– Asteatotic Eczema.
People over the age of 60 are affected with asteatotic eczema, also known as xerotic eczema and dermatitis craquelé. This could be due to the person’s skin becoming drier as he or she gets older. Although asteatotic eczema can affect any area of the body, it most commonly affects the lower legs.
– Nummular eczema.
Discoid Eczema is a type of this disease that causes disc-shaped areas on the skin of the lower thighs, torso, and forearms. The disc may clear up in the center, leaving a ring of red skin behind.
It begins as a simple itch, maybe caused by an insect bite, and spreads to the scalp, neck, wrists, forearms, lower thighs, and anal region.
– Stasis dermatitis.
Stasis Eczema is also known as Varicose, Venous, or Gravitational Eczema. It affects persons over the age of 50 who have varicose veins (spider veins). Varicose veins and eczema are caused by the weakening of the veins in your legs as you get older and less active.
WHO ARE AT INCREASED RISK OF GETTING ECZEMA, & WHY?
Whilst eczema can affect anybody, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 19.3% of African-American children acquire atopic dermatitis, compared to 16.1% of white children and 7.8% of Asian children.
– ECZEMA & RACIAL GROUPS:
Despite the fact that the exact cause of the disease is unknown, it is clear that both hereditary and environmental variables are important. Studies suggest that people with a family history of atopic dermatitis or any other form of atopic disease, such as asthma or hay fever, are more likely to develop this condition.
This notion is based on the fact that mutations in genes related to the microscopic skin barrier and immune cells are handed down from generation to generation. Some ethnic groups are more likely to have these mutations than others. As a result, Whites, African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and others experience various levels of frequency and severity.
Also, people residing in urban areas or those who are exposed to any form of allergen (dust, mould etc) are more likely to contract atopic dermatitis.
ECZEMA IN PEOPLE OF COLOUR
Almost 32 million people of all skin colors and races are diagnosed with this disease in the US alone. However, if you check for pictures of people with it on the internet, you’ll find photos of red, bumpy spots on fair skin. This indicates that persons of color, particularly youngsters, have a higher prevalence of eczema. According to a study, children of color experience more severe symptoms than white children, forcing them to miss school more frequently.
It appears differently in dark-skinned individuals. It appears purple, dark brown, or ashen grey instead of the usual red. This makes diagnosis challenging, resulting in misdiagnosis and, in some cases, a delay in coming up with a decision.
HOW IS ECZEMA TREATED IN DARKER SKIN?
This Disease has a significant impact on the quality of life of those who suffer from it. Persistent or uncontrolled eczema, especially in people with increased melanin, causes skin discoloration — lightening or darkening. This discoloration might be more annoying than the itching and inflammation, which can cause stress and frustration.
Atopic Dermatitis eczema treatment is essentially the same for all ethnic groups and skin tones. However, early diagnosis is crucial for prompt and effective treatment. Although there is no definite treatment for eczema, there are, however, options for symptomatic relief available. Some of them include:
– Bathing and Moisturizing
Bathing in lukewarm water every day for 15 to 20 minutes is seen to hydrate and soothe the skin of affected areas. Using a moisturizing cream after the bath helps capture the moisture.
– Coal Tar Preparations
Some dermatologists prescribe Coal Tar Preparations to help with eczema symptoms. These preparations are available in different forms such as creams, gels, ointments and solutions.
It is advised to get alcohol-free coal tar preparations, as alcohol has the tendency to irritate affected skin.
It is seen the steroid creams help in dealing with the itch and inflammation. Due to its potential side effects, doctors warn its users against its long-term usage. You should never consume steroids, in any form, without proper prescription.
– Antiallergic Medications
One of the most irritating and aggravating symptoms of eczema is itching. Your dermatologist may prescribe an antihistamine to help cope with the itch. Even though the results seem promising, it might take a couple of weeks to take effect.
This disease can be difficult to manage, but you’re not alone. It affects 15 to 20% of the population at some point in their lives. It can be extremely inconvenient, affecting your sleep, personal and professional life, and even your emotional well-being. Seeing a dermatologist and living a healthy lifestyle, on the other hand, can help you cope with this illness.
Eczema Awareness Month is observed each year in October by organizations in the United States, such as the National Eczema Association (NEA) and the American Academy of Dermatology (AAFA), who reach out to individuals to educate them about eczema, its symptoms, and new treatment options.