‘Eczema’ can be divided into two types – acute and chronic. In acute cases, the skin itches, becomes red and inflamed with ill – defined margins and there is the formation of papules and vesicles that may have some discharge, which then lead to the formation of crusts and scaling. In chronic cases, the condition is less vesicular and exudative but more scaly and itchy and the skin becomes dry, thickened, leathery, lichenified and fissured. There are scratch marks with increased pigmentation on the skin.
This condition may be genetic in origin and it is usually more common in summers. Eczemas can also be classified into endogenous and exogenous variety. The endogenous varieties are further classified into atopic, seborrhoeic, discoid, asteatotic, pompholyx and localized neurodermatitis resulting from some cause in the body itself. The exogenous variety is the one where the eczema results from factors outside the body. The exogenous variety consists of irritant eczema (resulting from detergents, alkalis, acids, solvents, dust and napkin eczema in babies due to irritant ammoniacal urine and faeces) and contact allergic eczema (resulting from allergy to certain minerals and chemicals found in jewellery, leather, hair dye, perfumes, cosmetics, creams, certain food items and fruits, topical ointments, tattoo marks, etc.) educating the patient and his/her relatives about the illness and about it not being contagious is essential.