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Aggravation eczéma.

Can eczema worsen?

Eczema refers to a skin disorder that causes inflammation of the skin. It can be temporary or chronic, and proves to be very bothersome for those who suffer from it. Nevertheless, eczema is often considered a benign disease that does not pose a health risk. But is this always true? Let's explore together whether eczema can worsen.

Summary
Published February 8, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 5 min read
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Eczema, an overview.

Eczema is a skin inflammation that manifests itself through the formation of red patches on the skin, associated with an intense sensation of itching . There is not one, but several types of eczema. One of the most common is atopic eczema or atopic dermatitis. This skin condition develops in individuals with a genetic predisposition towards atopy, which is the tendency to develop an allergic reaction to common environmental elements. The skin barrier of individuals prone to atopic eczema does not perform its role well, allowing water to easily evaporate from the epidermis and allergens to penetrate it. Eczema can also be acquired and manifest without a genetic predisposition. This is then referred to as contact eczema or allergic eczema.

No matter the form of eczema, skin lesions follow four major stages. They first appear red and warm, sometimes swollen, and are accompanied by itching. A few hours later, small vesicles filled with clear fluid appear on the red lesions and the itching persists. Scratching then breaks the vesicles which begin to ooze. They then become crusts and heal. However, the healing is in some cases more difficult than in others and it happens that the eczema worsens.

Eczema: Possible Complications?

Theeczema is a minor health concern in most cases. However, complications can occur. Fortunately, these are rare and can be avoided by certain actions. Among the possible complication cases is the generalized eczema (erythroderma). Eczema is said to be generalized when the patches spread. They can sometimes cover up to 90% of the body. In addition to the usual redness and itching, edemas are added. This form of eczema constitutes a dermatological emergency and sometimes requires hospitalization.

It can also happen that lesions fromeczema open up and become infected. Certain viruses, like herpes, certain bacteria, like staphylococcus aureus, or even certain fungi, like the candida albicans, can colonize the wound and lead to complications. Depending on the microorganism causing the infection, it can cause pain and exacerbate itching/redness. It is imperative to consult a dermatologist in case of infection, so that they can identify the source and prescribe an appropriate treatment (antifungals if it's fungi, antivirals if they are viruses, and antibiotics in case of bacterial colonization).

Eczema Complications: How to Avoid Them?

The complications of eczema can be avoided by adopting certain daily habits.

  • Avoid scratching areas affected by eczema.

    It is important to note that scratching can cause lesions, which serve as "entry points" for bacteria and viruses. Some people, for example, wear cotton gloves at night to prevent scratching during their sleep. Keeping nails short is also a good idea to avoid accidental injury. In addition to this, the application of certain ingredients (thermal water, essential oils, cold...) can help soothe itching.

  • Regularly apply an emollient.

    To limit the evaporation of water from the skin and the penetration of pathogens or allergens, it is recommended to apply a emollient care at least once a day, and systematically after showering because water has a drying effect. However, scented moisturizers should be avoided, as they can exacerbate eczema problems.

  • At the slightest doubt, consult a dermatologist.

    If you notice a change in the appearance of your lesions or a generalization of your eczema, do not hesitate to consult a healthcare professional. They will be able to determine if your eczema is indeed worsening and, if that is the case, prescribe a treatment. The earlier the intervention, the less significant the complications.

Sources

  • GOLDENBERG G. & al. Eczema. The Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine (2011).

  • BORRADORI L. & al. Dermatologie et infections sexuellement transmissibles. Elsevier Masson (2017).

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