Eczema is a discomforting skin condition that causes skin patches to turn itchy, inflamed, rough, red, and cracked. Several individuals suffer from this skin condition. Though the word Eczema sounds simple, the skin condition can be concerning and deep-seated. So, if you are keen on learning what eczema is and what increases your risk of developing it, think no further. Scroll down to learn all about it.


What is Eczema?

The word Eczema is derived from word ekzein – ek (out) + zein (to boil).

Eczema is an itchy inflammation of the skin that is characterized by rashes on the arms and behind the knees that can again appear anywhere.

However, it is important to note that for any of the disease condition to develop, certain risk factors are predisposing an individual to it.


Risk Factors for Eczema:

Here are some risk factors that can make you prone to skin condition.

  1. Skin irritants, which even include synthetic or wool clothing, dust/sand, chemical solvents, perfumes or cosmetics, chlorine, detergents, or soaps.
  2. Extremes in temperate or climate (cold or hot temperatures or dry air or extremely humid air)
  3. Lack of moisturizing after bathing
  4. Allergies or allergens: People who are prone to allergies have a greater risk of developing atopic dermatitis than those who do not have allergies. Some allergens that may be associated with eczema include:
  • Plant pollen
  • Animal dander
  • Household dust mites
  • Molds
  • Certain foods


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Causes & Types of Eczema:

Let us understand the types of Eczema first, as different forms of Eczema can have different triggering factors, as well as its causes:


Some Common Forms of Eczema and Causes Include:

  1. Atopic Dermatitis: It is the most common form of Eczema that usually occurs during childhood days.


  • Genetics – Hereditary component runs in the family along with other autoimmune conditions, most commonly Asthma.
  • Dry skin
  • Immune system deviation
  • Triggers in the environment.


  1. Contact Dermatitis: This form of dermatitis makes the skin look red and irritated resulting due to a reaction to a substance that you may get in contact with i.e. on touch. Further, there are two types of the same – Allergic Contact Dermatitis and Irritant Contact Dermatitis.



  • Skin irritants, which even include synthetic or wool clothing, dust/sand, chemical solvents, perfumes or cosmetics, chlorine, detergents, or soaps.


  1. Dyshidrotic Eczema: This form of Eczema is characterized by fluid-filled blisters, particularly over the toes, palms, fingers, and feet soles. Blisters may cause itching, scaling, or flaking.


  • Allergies,
  • Damp hands and feet,
  • Exposure to substances like metals and non-metals


  1. Neurodermatitis: This form of Eczema shows up as an itchy area of thickened, pigmented eczema patch that results due to habitual rubbing and scratching. Usually, there is only one spot. It affects arms, legs, back of the neck, scalp, bottoms of the feet, genitals, and dorsum aspect of the hand.


  1. Discoid Eczema / Nummular / Microbial / Exudative Eczema: This type of Eczema is characterized by round, coin-shaped spots over the skin that are often accompanied by itching and scaling.
  • Triggers: Insect bite, metals, chemicals, and dry skin


  1. Stasis Dermatitis: This type of Eczema occurs in individuals who are suffering from impaired circulation, edema, and varicose veins and is particularly common in the ankle area of people over 50. There is redness, scaling, darkening of the skin, and itching associated with it. The disorder predisposes to Ulcer.


Causes/Risk Factors:

  • Prolonged Standing
  • Infection
  • Edema
  • Varicose Veins


  1. Hand Eczema: This form of Eczema affects Hands hence it derives the name Hand Eczema from it. It is mainly occupational and affects people involved in cleaning, hairdressing, healthcare, laundry, or dry cleaning.


Causes: Exposure to Chemicals and Occupational causes.


Now that you know what factors increase the risk of developing discomforting eczema, make sure that you stay away from these risk factors and enjoy healthy skin and good health.

  • Written by Dr. Kinjel S., Associate doctor to Dr. Rajesh Shah


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