Eczema is an extremely broad term that applies to a variety of skin rashes and irritations, of which symptoms include redness, itching and dryness, flaking, blistering, cracking, and oozing or bleeding.
There are four main types of eczema. Atopic eczema is believed to have a hereditary component, as families that suffer from either hay fever, or asthma tend to be predisposed to it. Symptoms include an itchy rash covering the face, neck, hands, elbows, knees and scalp. Contact dermatitis can either be caused by irritants such as detergents, or allergens such as nickel, and can generally be avoided. Xerotic eczema is dry skin so severe that it becomes eczema, and seborrhoeic eczema is the dry, or greasy scaling of the scalp and elbows.
A diagnosis of eczema is usually based on an evaluation of family history, dietary and lifestyle habits, allergies, the use of prescribed drugs, and exposure to irritating chemicals and materials. Treatments include intensive moisturizers (emollients or aqueous), the elimination of dusts or allergens, anti-itch products, corticosteroids, and or immunomodulators.