Is Eczema Life Threatening?

We get this question sometimes and it’s most often by people WITHOUT Eczema who know people–and in fact are likely to be very close with people–who have it. Granted, we are pretty sensitive to this question, but it often seems rooted a bit in victim-blaming and not sharing the agony that can often result from lifelong battles with Eczema.

To cut to the quick, we are going to pull in the words directly from the National Eczema Association that tell us…”while eczema is not life-threatening, there is a considerable psychological impact. It’s itchy, it’s painful, and it’s not just a skin condition.”

It is this point we want to make clear. Eczema is unlikely to send anyone to the emergency room or keep them from breathing or cause them to bleed to death. As they NEA says, it’s not life threatening in that normative sense. However, it is a threat to life. You don’t get to live the same life in the same comfort as people who do not have this condition. We are not trying to be dramatic, but it’s very hard to explain how much this condition can negatively affect your life if you don’t have it.

Don’t Discount Indirect Effects

While we hopefully cleared up right away that you or someone you know is unlikely to be at any immediate health risk from Eczema, there are indirect effects of having Eczema that can cause issues.

The main one is general discomfort. Having unbearably itchy skin creates general discomfort and that combined with other issues, can exacerbate both how you feel and how people observe you as feeling. You might have a common cold or the flu, but paired with raging Eczema, it might feel like the end of the world, and more importantly, others may observe you as being in worse shape than you are; no fault of theirs.

*Just a quick note here, that as you and your loved ones age with Eczema, it is important to have both language/signals to your family if something is life threatening, as well as some type of medical alert pendant or medical ID bracelet in case you are in the company of strangers. You family you be educated with language about how you are feeling, so that they know when there is an emergency. And strangers should be able to find bracelets and alert buttons to get you help when you are away from home.

Anxiety is another factor that can directly contribute to general health and wellness. Often a person’s Eczema will cause them anxiety and even depression and those both can drag in a host of other issues, such as IBS, that are both hard to shake and often hard to diagnose to true source. Here again, while Eczema is not a direct threat to life, it can draw other issues into the fray that can cause major issues. Stress and anxiety can in turn provoke more Eczema symptoms, making matters worse.

The point of all this is to allay the nerves of sufferer’s so they know they aren’t in direct danger of dying from this condition, and also to educate those without Eczema that the lack of lethality of this condition makes it no less difficult or stressful for the sufferer to endure

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a form of eczema. It develops on the upper back, scalp, and nose, which have a large concentration of oil glands. The exact cause is not clear, although it is believed that hormones, genes, and microorganisms that live on the skin may all contribute. It differs from other types of eczema in that it is not caused by allergies.

Anyone, of any age, can develop seborrheic dermatitis. Cradle cap, a condition common for infants, is a form of seborrheic dermatitis. Individuals with existing conditions that affect the nervous or immune system have a higher likelihood of developing the disease. Symptoms include red skin, swollen, greasy skin, and crusty spots that are white or yellow. The skin may itch or sting.

This skin condition may clear up on its own, but once you develop this condition you may experience chronic flare-ups. Your doctor can help you come up with a treatment plan to minimize flares. If the seborrheic dermatitis is on your scalp, an over-the-counter shampoo containing coal tar, salicylic acid, zinc pyrithione or other anti-dandruff ingredients can help.

If the condition is on other areas of the body, keep the area clean and dry and wash daily. Your doctor may recommend sulfur products, corticosteroids, or antifungal treatments to help clear up flares. Seborrheic dermatitis often responds well to over-the-counter treatments and diligent attention to hygiene.

Seborrheic dermatitis differs from other types of eczema in a variety of ways. Atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, and dyshidrotic eczema are often the result of exposure to allergens. Nummular eczema is often triggered by an insect bite or other skin irritation, and statis dermatitis develops as a result of blood flow problems.

Varicose Dermatitis

Varicose dermatitis primarily occurs in the legs of older individuals who have varicose veins. This is different from other types of dermatitis that will often occur in the folds of the skin. Also known as stasis dermatitis, this problem is caused by some types of heart disease, poor blood circulation or a collection of excess fluid. When an individual has varicose dermatitis, there are often open sores on the ankles or the lower parts of the legs. The ulcers on the skin can cause discoloration along with itchiness and pain. The skin on the lower part of the legs and the ankles can become thickened, making treatment more difficult.

This variety of dermatitis is often chronic, but an individual may have flare-ups instead. Treatment for varicose dermatitis is imperative to prevent any complications from infections that can spread to the upper areas of the legs or to the feet. Topical corticosteroids are the preferred treatment for varicose dermatitis, and there are over-the-counter or prescription medications available. This is considered an incurable condition, but fast treatment can prevent the complications.

In addition, a physician may recommend wearing compression stockings to apply pressure to the varicose veins in the legs. To improve this type of dermatitis, an individual can undergo treatment for the varicose veins, including stripping the veins or ablation with heat to close the enlarged veins. Mild physical exercise can reduce an individual’s weight, helping to improve the condition of the veins in the legs and the varicose dermatitis.