If your skin itches and turns red from time to time, you may have eczema. This skin condition is most common in children, but can also occur in adults.
Eczema is sometimes referred to as atopic dermatitis, the most common form. Atopic” refers to an allergy. People with eczema often have itching, red skin, allergies, or asthma.
Eczema also comes in some other forms. Each type of eczema has its symptoms and triggers.
Here are some common symptoms of all types of eczema:
- dry, scaly skin
- itching, which may be intense
Atopic dermatitis is the most general form of eczema. It usually begins in childhood and often progresses into adolescence or disappears into adolescence. Atopic dermatitis is an area that doctors call atopic dermatitis. “Triangle” means three. The other two diseases in the trio are asthma and hay fever. Many people with atopic dermatitis have all 3 conditions.
In atopic dermatitis:
- Skin in areas where the rash occurs may turn lighter or darker or get thicker
- Small bumps may occur and leak fluid if you scratch them
- The rashes often form in the creases of your elbows or knees
- Children often get the rash on their scalp and cheeks
- Your skin can get infected if you rub it
Atopic dermatitis happens when your skin’s natural barrier against the elements is weakened. This means your skin is less able to protect you against irritants and allergens. Atopic dermatitis is likely caused by a combination of factors such as:
- dry skin
- an immune system problem
- triggers in the environment
If you have red, irritated skin due to a reaction to the substance you touch, you may have contact dermatitis. It comes in two types: Allergic contact dermatitis is a reaction of the immune system to an irritant such as latex or metal. Irritant contact dermatitis begins when a chemical or other substance irritates your skin.
In contact dermatitis:
- Itchy bumps called hives can appear on your skin
- Itching, redness, burns, and itching of your skin
- Fluid-filled blisters can form that may seep and crust over
- Over time, the skin becomes thicker and may feel scaly or leathery
Contact dermatitis occurs when you touch a substance that irritates your skin or causes an allergic reaction. The most common reasons are:
- poison ivy and other poisonous plants
- skincare products, including makeup
- soaps and perfumes
- tobacco smoke
Dyshidrotic eczema is the formation of small blisters on your hands and feet. It is more common in women than men.
In dyshidrotic eczema:
- fluid-filled blisters form on your palms, fingers, toes, and soles of your feet
- these blisters may itch or hurt
- the skin can scale, crack, and flake
Dyshidrotic eczema can be caused by:
- Mental stress, Allergy, Wet hands and feet, Exposure to substances such as nickel, cobalt, or chromium salt
Eczema affects only your hands. If you work as a hairdresser or cleaner, you can get this type if you continue to use chemicals that irritate the skin.
In hand eczema:
- They can form cracks or blisters
- Your hands get red, itchy, and dry
Hand eczema is triggered by exposure to chemicals. Those who work in annoying jobs are more likely to get this form:
- Laundry or dry cleaning
Neurodermatitis is similar to atopic dermatitis. This causes thick, scaly patches to appear on your skin.
- Thick, scaly patches form on your arms, legs, back of neck, scalp, soles of your feet, back of your hands, or genitals
- These patches can be very itchy, especially when you are relaxing or sleeping
- If you scratch the patches, they can bleed and get infected
Neurodermatitis usually begins in people with other types of eczema or psoriasis. Although stress is a trigger, doctors do not know exactly what causes it.
This type of eczema causes round, coin-shaped spots on your skin. The word “nummular” means coin in Latin. Nummular eczema looks very different from other types of eczema, and it can cause a lot of itching.
In nummular eczema:
- Round, coin-shaped spots form on your skin
- The spots may become itchy or scaly
Nummular eczema can be triggered by an insect bite or an allergic reaction to metals or chemicals. Dry skin can also occur. If you have another type of eczema-like atopic dermatitis you are more likely to get this form.
Stagnant dermatitis occurs when fluid from weak veins seeps into your skin. This fluid causes swelling, redness, itching, and pain.
In stasis dermatitis:
- The lower part of your legs may swell, especially when you walk during the day
- Your legs may ache or feel heavy
- Thick varicose veins in your legs may also have rope damaged veins
- There will be dry and itchy skin on those varicose veins
- You can develop open sores on your lower legs and the tops of your feet
Stasis dermatitis occurs in people with blood circulation problems in their lower legs. Usually, the valves that push blood up through your legs lead to heart failure, which can lead to blood clots in your legs. Your legs may develop swollen and varicose veins.
Eczema often comes and goes. When it occurs, you might need to try different medicines and other treatments to get rid of the rash.
- Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can control itching.
- Corticosteroid cream or ointment can reduce itching. For more severe reactions, steroids such as prednisone (Rheumatoid Arthritis) may be taken orally to control inflammation.
- Inhibitors of calcineurin such as tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel) reduce the immune system that causes red, itchy skin.
- Antibiotics are used to treat skin infections.
- Light therapy exposes your skin to ultraviolet light to cure your rash.
- Cool compresses applied before applying corticosteroid cream will help the medicine go easy on your skin.
As an allergic reaction spreads to your eczema, you should avoid the substance that triggers it.
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if the itching and redness you experience do not go away on their own or if it interferes with your life. A dermatologist called dermatologist can diagnose and treat eczema.