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Introduction to Eczema

Eczema affects one in five adults in the United Kingdom and up to one fifth of children. The term eczema is a blanket term that can be used for all forms of eczema as their as many types of eczema. In a mild form the skin appears dry, and itchy. In severe forms, the skin may bleed. The cause of eczema depends on the clinical diagnosis of the type of eczema. It is imperative that the type of eczema is diagnosed before an effective treatment plan can be implemented.

Forms of Eczema

Listed below are the five main types of eczema that affect the feet and legs.

Atopic Eczema

This is the most common form of eczema. The skin often appears extremely dry, red and inflamed. The patient may also complain of severe itchiness. Scratching the skin may cause the skin to split, leaving it susceptible to infection. If the eczema is infected, the skin may crack and weep. Atopic eczema is linked with hereditary factors, asthma and hayfever. Patients may also have a sensitive reaction to certain types of allergens in the environment, which may lead to the occurrence of atopic eczema. Treatments include different types of emollients and steroids to reduce the inflammation.

Discoid Eczema

This form of eczema commonly appears in adults and can affect the legs and the feet. Discoid eczema appears as small round shaped lesions that can be very itchy and may weep fluid. Treatments include different types of emollients and steroids to reduce the inflammation.

Irritant Contact Dermatitis

This form of eczema is caused by frequent contact with everyday substances such as soaps and shower gels. A patient may experience symptoms similar to that of atopic eczema. This condition can be prevented through avoiding the irritant.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

This condition is very similar to irritant contact dermatitis. Red, itchy and inflamed lesions may occur due to a material such as cotton, leather or wool. Certain types of washing up powders and fabric softeners may also lead to an attack of allergic contact dermatitis.

Varicose Eczema

Patients who suffer from varicose veins are susceptible to varicose eczema. This condition produces speckled, itchy and inflamed lesions. These commonly affect the ankle region. If severe varicose eczema occurs, it may lead to the formation of an ulcer. Treatments include different types of emollients and steroids to reduce the inflammation



Tips on living with the eczema

  • Ensure that you have the correct blend of emollients and topical steroids.
  • Do not borrow somebody elses creams, as they may be too strong for you.
  • Cotton clothes and bedding will allow the skin to cool.
  • Synthetic fibers and wool can irritate the skin, caution should be taken.
  • The use of non-biological washing up powders and certain types of fabric softeners may lead to a severe attack, caution should be taken
  • What your Chiropodist will do:

  • Recommend a cream or topical steroid that will be suitable for your skin.
  • Treat any open cuts or weeping lesions you may have as a result of your eczema.
  • In the case of varicose eczema and the associated complication of varicose ulcers, the chiropodist will apply appropriate dressings to the lesions.

Treatments of Eczema

  • Even though we have reached the millennium, there is still no cure for eczema. However, symptoms can be controlled to minimize discomfort and pain. Many children will find that their eczema has cleared by the time they reach their mid teens.

    An effective skin care regime is essential in order to control all forms of eczema. The skin care regime will be catered around a specific patients need.

    The forms of treatment are:


    The term emollient applies to creams, lotions, gels and soap substitutes. Emollients will enable the skin to become less dry, itchy and more comfortable. There is a wide range of emollients available on the market. Trial and error may be necessary to ascertain which emollient is best for you. Your chiropodist and your general practitioner may recommend certain types of emollients.

    Topical Steroids

    In cases when the eczema is inflamed, steroids may be needed. Hydrocortisones are often prescribed by general practitioners, as they are effective in reducing inflammation associated with eczema. There are other steroid creams and gels that have varying strengths. However, caution must be taken as side effects can occur with frequent and long-term use of

    Oral steroids

    In severe cases, oral steroids may be necessary. Your General Practitioner will prescribe them if your symptoms can not be controlled via emollients and topical steroids.

    Other treatments
  • Laser therapy can be used in severe cases.
  • Alternative therapies such as Chinese herbal medicine may be of benefit

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