Eczema: What You Need To Know About This Distressing Condition

Eczema is a common skin condition that is characterized by inflamed, itchy, and dry skin. It can be found in both adults and children, and often appears as patches of red or darker patches on the surface of the skin

Eczema can cause damage to the skin’s natural barrier, leading to increased dryness and sensitivity. This can make eczema more difficult to manage and can result in a cycle of itching and further irritation. Eczema symptoms vary depending on the type of eczema.

Types of Eczema

Let's get familiar with the various forms of eczema. There are 6 known types of eczema. Each has its own set of triggers that may disrupt your skin's natural barrier, such as:

1. Atopic Dermatitis: This is the most common type of eczema, and typically appears as dry, itchy, red patches on the face, arms, and legs. It is common among children, but can also affect adults.

2. Contact Dermatitis: This type of eczema is caused by contact with an irritant or allergen and typically appears as a red rash that may be swollen and itchy. Symptoms may vary depending on the substance causing the eczema.

3. Dyshidrotic Eczema: Also known as pompholyx eczema, this type of eczema causes small blisters to form on the palms of hands and soles of feet. The affected areas may be incredibly itchy, painful, and scaly.

4. Neurodermatitis: Neurodermatitis typically appears as a patch of eczema on the back of the neck, wrists, or ankles. Symptoms may include itching, redness, and scaling.

5. Nummular Eczema: This type of eczema is characterized by itchy, coin-shaped spots that often appear after a skin injury such as an insect bite or cut. The eczema patches are usually dry and scaly.

6. Seborrheic Dermatitis: Also known as “cradle cap” in infants, this type of eczema causes a red rash with yellowish scales that often affects the scalp, nose, ears, eyebrows, eyelids and chest.

Believe it or not, it is possible to have multiple forms of eczema concurrently. It's important to consult a dermatologist if you believe you or someone you know is suffering from eczema, as they can help to diagnose the type and create a treatment plan to manage it.

Segment of Population More Prone to Getting Eczema

Eczema is a skin condition that affects people of all ages and backgrounds. However, certain segments of the population are more prone to eczema than others. Babies and small children are particularly at risk for eczema, as it affects around 10-20% of infants globally. People with a family history of eczema, asthma, and allergies are also more likely to develop eczema. Additionally, those with weakened immune systems due to a medical condition or treatment may be more susceptible to eczema.

It is important to note that eczema can appear in any age group and does not discriminate. If you believe you or someone you know may have eczema, it is best to consult a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Causes & Symptoms of Eczema

Common Causes of Eczema

Eczema is a common skin condition that affects millions of people around the world. While eczema can be difficult to manage and control, understanding the causes and symptoms of eczema can help you to find ways to reduce flare-ups. Common causes of eczema include:

1. Your Immune System: People with eczema have a type of dysfunctional immune system that causes the body to overreact to certain triggers and release inflammation-causing agents. This can lead to eczema flares, which cause the skin to become red, itchy, and scaly.

2. The Environment: Environmental factors such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander and certain fabrics can act as triggers for eczema flares. Exposure to extreme temperatures or humidity levels may also increase the risk of eczema symptoms flaring up.

3. Your DNA: Eczema is largely genetic, meaning that it’s likely inherited from a parent or other relative who has eczema themselves. If someone in your family has eczema, there’s a higher chance that you might develop eczema too.

4. Emotional Triggers: Stress is known to be a catalyst for eczema flare-ups, so managing stress through relaxation techniques, meditation, and other calming activities can help to minimize eczema symptoms.


Common Symptoms of Eczema

Eczema is an itchy, uncomfortable skin condition that can range in severity and cause a variety of symptoms. Common eczema symptoms include :

1. Itching: eczema can cause a lot of unpleasant itching, and it’s important to resist the temptation to scratch, as this can only worsen the eczema.

2. Redness: eczema typically causes red patches of skin on affected areas.

3. Dry Skin: eczema can make your skin feel dry and rough, which can be uncomfortable.

4. Flaking Skin: eczema causes skin to flake or peel off in areas where it is particularly bad.

5. Cracking Skin: eczema often leads to cracking skin due to the dryness of the affected area.

6. Darkened Skin: eczema can make your skin appear darker or discolored, especially in areas where it has been scratched.

7. Swelling: eczema can cause the affected areas to become swollen and tender.

8. Thickened Skin: eczema can lead to thickened, leathery patches of skin due to prolonged inflammation.

While eczema can be an uncomfortable condition, understanding the common causes and symptoms of eczema can help you to manage it more effectively. If you think that you have eczema, speak to your healthcare provider in order to discuss treatment options.

Common Triggers To Eczema Symptoms

There are many different triggers for eczema. Knowing what can trigger eczema flare-ups is an important step in managing this condition. Here are some of the most common triggers for eczema:

By being aware of these common triggers for eczema flare-ups, you can be better prepared to manage your eczema and reduce flare-ups. If you think something may be triggering your eczema, talk to your doctor or dermatologist for further advice.


Potential Complications of Eczema

There are 2 main complications with eczema that are possible if left untreated:

Weeping eczema

Weeping eczema is a condition when the eczema becomes so inflamed, irritated and itchy that it oozes with clear or yellowish fluid. This can occur as a result of scratching or picking at the eczema, as well as increased sweating due to fever or too much heat. If left untreated, weeping eczema can lead to skin infections that are caused by bacteria and viruses.

Infected eczema

Infected eczema is a condition when the eczema becomes infected with bacteria or fungi. Symptoms of an infection include redness, swelling, pain, warmth and fluid-filled blisters around the eczema. This type of eczema should be treated immediately, as it can lead to serious medical complications if left untreated.

As eczema can be caused by a variety of factors, it is important to have regular eczema check-ups and to follow the advice of your doctor or dermatologist. Early diagnosis and treatment are key in preventing any possible complications from occurring. It is also important to take steps to prevent eczema from occurring, such as avoiding harsh soaps and detergents, managing stress levels, and using eczema-specific creams and moisturizers. With proper management, eczema can typically be kept under control with minimal complications.

Diagnosis & Tests For Eczema

Eczema is usually diagnosed based on the symptoms and medical history of the patient. However, eczema can sometimes be difficult to diagnose because it can look like other skin conditions.

To confirm the diagnosis, the healthcare provider may perform a physical exam and ask questions about the eczema symptoms. The healthcare provider may also order tests such as a skin biopsy, blood test or allergy test to help confirm the eczema diagnosis.

The healthcare provider may also ask about the patient’s family history, lifestyle habits and workplace environment to determine if any of these factors could be contributing to eczema. The healthcare provider may use this information to determine the best eczema treatment plan.

Management & Treatment of Eczema

Once the eczema diagnosis is confirmed, the healthcare provider can develop an eczema treatment plan to help manage the condition. Treatment plans may include lifestyle changes, topical medications and/or oral medications, depending on the severity of eczema.

General eczema management tips include:

Topical medications may be used to reduce eczema flare-ups, and include corticosteroid ointments or creams, topical calcineurin inhibitors (TCIs) or topical antibiotics. Depending on the severity of eczema, oral medications may also be prescribed.

In addition to medication, some people find relief from eczema symptoms with complementary therapies such as acupuncture, herbal remedies, massage and relaxation techniques. It's important to check with your healthcare provider before trying any new treatments.

By following the eczema management plan prescribed by your healthcare provider, you can help reduce eczema flare-ups and maintain healthy skin. With the right treatment plan, eczema can be managed effectively.

Steps To Prevent Eczema Flare-ups

Living with eczema can be difficult and uncomfortable, however there are steps you can take to help prevent eczema flare-ups. These are just some of the ways:

1. Keep skin hydrated and moisturized: Applying an eczema cream or ointment can help to keep the skin from drying out and can help to prevent eczema flare-ups.

2. Avoid irritants: Certain materials such as rough fabrics, wool, and detergents can irritate eczema-prone skin. Be sure to wear soft fabrics and use mild products when possible.

3. Avoid hot baths or showers: Hot water can strip the skin of its natural oils, drying it out and leading to eczema flare-ups. Use lukewarm water instead and be sure not to stay in the bath or shower too long.

4. Protect your skin from the sun: Sun exposure can make eczema worse so it is important to protect yourself when outside with a sunscreen specifically designed for sensitive skin types.

5. Practice good hand hygiene: Regularly washing hands with a gentle cleanser can help keep bacteria away that may cause eczema flare-ups.

6. Avoid stress: Stress can be a trigger for eczema flare-ups so make sure to take some time out each day to relax and unwind. Taking part in activities such as yoga, meditation, or going for walks can help.

7. Identify triggers: Keeping track of eczema flare ups and what might have triggered them is important in order to prevent future eczema flare-ups. Writing down when eczema flares up, where it happened, what you ate that day etc., can help identify potential triggers and provide insight into eczema management plan.

Following these steps can help reduce eczema flare-ups and help keep skin looking healthy and hydrated. It is always best to consult with a healthcare professional regarding eczema treatment and prevention plans.


- National Eczema Association. (2020). Treatment & Management.

- Mayo Clinic. (2018). Eczema: Diagnosis and Treatment.

- American Academy of Dermatology. (2020). eczema.

- American Academy of Dermatology. (2020). eczema: tips for reducing eczema flares.

- National Eczema Association. (2020). eczema triggers.

- National Eczema Association. (2020). eczema prevention.


Is eczema an autoimmune disease?

While there is some debate over whether eczema is truly an autoimmune disease, the general consensus is that it likely is. In other words, eczema likely arises from the body attacking its own skin cells (a process known as autoimmunity).

Is eczema contagious?

No, eczema is not contagious. It is a chronic skin disorder that usually comes and goes in cycles, triggered by different factors like stress, environment, and allergies.