Symptoms of Eczema
- Your skin will become itchy (almost always) before a rash appears from eczema.
- You may notice patches of dry, itchy skin on any part of your body, but usually on the hands, face and neck, or legs. Skin may feel thicker.
- Severely dry patches of skin may develop open sores with crusts and become infected if scratched.
Causes of Eczema
The exact cause of eczema is not known. The most common type of eczema, which is atopic dermatitis, resembles an allergy, but the skin irritation is not an allergic reaction. It is seen in children more often than in adults. The current consensus is that the cause is a combination of factors, including:
- Genetic factors
- Immune system abnormalities
- Harsh environments
- Activities that cause skin to become sensitive
- Defects in the skin barrier that allow moisture out and germs in
What We Do Know About the Causes of Eczema
Eczema is not contagious. You can’t catch eczema by coming in contact with someone who has it.
Eczema often occurs in families. This implies a genetic role in the cause. A major risk factor is having relatives who had or have:
- Seasonal allergies (hay fever, pollen allergies, etc)
Mother’s age at time of birth has effect. It has been observed that children born to older women are more likely to develop eczema than children born to younger women, although it is not clear why.
Environment has a role. Children are more likely to develop eczema if:
- They are in a higher social class
- Live in colder climates
- Live in urban areas with higher levels of pollution
Eczema is not an allergic reaction. Even so, a large number of children who have eczema also have food allergies. In fact, doctors also know that a large percentage of children with severe eczema will develop asthma or other allergies later. But this does not mean that certain foods that are common food allergens (such as dairy, eggs, and nuts) cause eczema or make it worse. Before removing any foods from your child’s diet, consult your child’s doctor to be sure nutritional needs will be met.
What Triggers Eczema?
There are things that, although they do not cause eczema, will make an irritation or rash occur or become worse. Certain fibers such as wool and some man-made fibers are prime examples.
Symptoms of eczema:
There are many different types of eczema, and they cause different symptoms, which include:
- Redness. The affected skin may be blotchy or red, and may even bleed.
- Itching . Itching can often be so intense that it will sometimes cause a person to damage their skin by scratching it.
- Scaling. Due to surface skin can flaking off, skin can appear rough and scaly.
- Blisters. Blisters may form and become crusty or ooze fluid.
- Cracking. Extreme cases can cause the skin to develop fissures, which are painful deep cracks.
Eczema can flare up and cause sudden, severe symptoms, or can be a chronic problem with less severe symptoms.
Types of Eczema:
Eczema Treatments Eczema Causes
Atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema, affects people who also have:
- Pollen allergies such as hay fever
- Family history of eczema, asthma, or hay fever
- Defects in the skin’s barrier, allowing moisture out and germs in
This type usually begins during childhood or even infancy, but can occur at any age.
Most often, it affects skin on the:
- Hands and feet
- Inner elbows
- Back of the knees
Over time, scratching the skin can cause it to become thicker and inflamed. Scratching can also cause infections in the raw area.
Irritants that can make symptoms of atopic dermatitis worse include:
- Rough clothing or irritating fabric
- Household chemicals
Other allergy triggers such as certain foods and dust mites can also make symptoms worse.
Eczema Treatments Eczema Causes
Treatments of eczema include:
- Products to moisturize the skin
- Steroid creams
- Drugs that control the immune system including dupilumab (Dupixent), which is given as an injection every two weeks, and crisaborole (Eucrisa), a non-steroid ointment that is applied twice a day
- Antibiotics (if infection is present)
- Ultraviolet light, sometimes with a drug called psoralen
- See your Podiatrist