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What is Eczema?

Eczema is an itchy skin condition characterized by dermatitis or inflammation of the upper layers of skin. Patients suffering from eczema build chronic red skin rashes, skin edema, itching, and dryness as well as crusting, blistering, flaking, cracking, discharging, or bleeding. It affects both males and females irrespective of their age. Approximately one-fifth of all youngsters and a single in twelve adults suffer from eczema.

Eczema condition is also known as atopic dermatitis. This condition begins during infancy or early childhood and can continue till adulthood. There are various types of eczema and depending on the type doctors determine the kind of rash an individual has developed and where on your body it occurs.

Types of eczema

Here are the types of eczema with their associated symptoms:

  • Atopic dermatitis: This type of eczema causes symptoms like dry, and itchy skin which usually appears with a red rash. It is one of the common types.
  • Contact dermatitis: This form of eczema is caused by exposure to anything that can cause irritation to the skin and can trigger allergic reaction.
  • Dyshidrotic dermatitis: This eczema type affects different parts of the body such as palms of the hands, feet soles, and fingers. It involves the symptoms such as scaly patches on skin, itchiness, flaky or red skin, cracked, and painful skin. This condition is very common among females.
  • Nummular dermatitis: This type of dermatitis involves symptoms such as itchy, scaly patches that are round and red.
  • Stasis dermatitis: It is usually found on the lower legs and is caused because of poor blood flow.

Eczema symptoms

The primary eczema symptoms are itchiness, dry, rough, inflamed, rough, irritated, and flaky skin. An individual suffering from this condition can also notice flaring up, subside, and then flaring up again. This condition can occur anywhere on the body part, however usually it affects knees back, inner elbows, arms, scalp, and cheeks. Eczema is not contagious and becomes less severe with growing age at times.

There are other symptoms which can be experienced by an individual. These symptoms are red, brownish-grey patches, sore, or raw-feeling skin, crusty patches of dried yellowish ooze signalling infection, and small, raised bumps oozing fluid if scratched.

There are people who may find that their symptoms are getting worse at night, mainly it becomes difficult for them to sleep. If scratched, then this condition causes more irritation and inflammation on the skin. It causes infection which requires antibiotics for the treatment purpose.

Mild eczema is treatable at home by preventing triggers and ensuring that skin is always moisturised. Although, it is always better to consider getting in touch with the doctor if it is observed that symptoms are hard to manage or getting worse. It is recommended to consult the doctor at earliest if:

  • Eczema is not responding to the recommended over-the-counter medications
  • You are awake at night because of the symptoms
  • It becomes difficult to manage daily tasks due to this condition
  • Blistering of skin or weeping fluid
  • Peeled skin
  • Thick or scaly skin

Eczema causes

The eczema causes are not understood yet, although researchers believed that overactive immune system is the primary trigger for this condition. Eczema tends to spread if an individual’s skin is exposed to outside irritants causing the immune system to overreach.

It is also found out that people with eczema aren’t able to produce sufficient protein named filaggrin or filament aggregating protein. This protein is helpful in keeping the skin healthy and moisturised.

Eczema triggers

Eczema flare-up occurs when one or more symptoms appear on the skin. There are external and internal factors contributing to eczema flares. Here are some of the common triggers:

  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Scented or perfumed products
  • Chemicals such as found in detergents and cleansers
  • External allergens like dust, dust mites, pollens, or mould
  • Synthetic fabrics and rough scratchy material such as wool
  • Temperature changes
  • Stress
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Animal dander and food allergies

Eczema diagnosis

A healthcare expert will initiate eczema diagnosis after physical evaluation, and they look at the patient’s skin closely. Usually, doctors ensure diagnosing eczema conditions among children as they are exposed to it, but it can occur at any age.

The symptoms of eczema can appear the same to other conditions. Your doctor might recommend certain tests for ruling out other conditions and confirming eczema diagnosis. These tests involve allergy tests, blood tests for checking rash causes, and skin biopsy to identify the type of dermatitis.

Eczema treatment

A dermatologist or primary care doctor can assist you with the right eczema treatment. The treatment depends on the severity and eczema type. There might be a recommendation of combining more than one treatment. Here are the treatment options:


Over-the-counter medications like antihistamines, cetirizine, diphenhydramine, fexofenadine, and loratadine are useful in relieving itching. It blocks the allergic reaction which is a result of histamine. Although, these medications can cause dizziness or drowsiness, so it should be taken when you are not at rest.

Cortisone or steroid creams and ointments help to relieve itching and scaling. One can experience side effects like skin thinning, irritation, and discoloration.

There are low-potency steroids such as hydrocortisone which help in treating mild eczema. For moderate or severe eczema, only doctors can prescribe high-potency steroids. For infection treatment, a doctor may recommend taking a topical or oral antibiotic.

The doctor might also recommend immunosuppressants which help in preventing the immune system from overreacting. It also helps in preventing eczema flare-ups. The side effects of these medications are high blood pressure, or kidney disease.


The doctor might recommend light therapy or phototherapy to help avert immune system responses triggering eczema with the use of ultraviolet light or sunlamps. It needs a treatment series and assists in reducing or clearing up this condition. Therapies are useful in preventing bacterial infections.

Lifestyle changes

If there are worries and stress in life, then it makes the eczema symptoms worse. Here are the ways that will help in reducing stress:

  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Involving yourself in yoga
  • Meditation
  • Listening to relaxing music
  • A good night sleep

Alternative treatments

There are other alternative treatments that can help in calming the eczema symptoms. Since there can be possible side effects, it is recommended to always check with your healthcare expert before using supplements or involving yourself in exercise routine. Here are the remedies that can be included:

  • Acupuncture
  • Aromatherapy
  • Relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, yoga, and meditation
  • Using oils like sunflower, coconut, primrose
  • Green tea, black and oolong tea

Eczema prevention

There are several steps that you can take to avert eczema flare-ups. Ensure speaking to your doctor and discuss changes that are workable for you.

Here are the steps that can benefit you with flare-ups prevention:

  • Reduce stress
  • Avoid known triggers
  • Ensure keeping your skin clean
  • Reduce shower time to less than 10 minutes
  • Avoid hot showers
  • Always keep your skin moisturised
  • Use scent-free laundry detergents and makeup products
  • Take prescription as recommended
  • Avoid skin itching

Eczema outlook

No cure is available for eczema, but you can efficiently involve steps to manage symptoms with appropriate treatment. The treatment options are lifestyle changes, therapies, and medications.

In rare cases, eczema can cause other health complications like asthma, infections, and worsening skin. If you experience trouble managing this condition, speak to your doctor. Your doctor can assist you with reducing flare-ups and offering you the right treatment plan.


Is eczema contagious?

No, the eczema condition is not transmissible and cannot spread through person-to-person contact.

How much time does eczema require to go away?

Once you take eczema treatment, it might take several weeks before you notice any noticeable changes in the skin in terms of clearing up completely. Topical and oral medications are useful in controlling the symptoms.

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