The word 'eczema' comes from Greek words that mean 'to boil over'. 'Dermatitis' comes from the Greek word for skin and both terms refer to exactly the same skin condition. Eczema may also be referred to as 'atopic eczema' when it is caused by allergies. It is generally pronounced eczeka or exsama. Eczema is a fairly common condition. Statistics on eczema indicate that eczema affects more than 15 million Americans and ten percent of all children. Strangely enough, the condition appears to be getting more common. Some hypothesize that it may have to do with our increasing exposure to chemicals as well as other allergens. Eczema is an itchy inflammation of the skin associated to a varying degree with other features such as:
- redness of affected areas of skin
- generally dry skin, which is often thickened in the areas that have been scratched
- lumps or blisters in affected areas
- signs of superficial infection such as weeping or crusty deposits.