Signs of Eczema Jul 30, 2019 / by Complete Family Dermatology Team
If you know someone with eczema, or if you have it yourself, you may know that there is much we still do not know about the condition. Generally, it presents as a rash that can become rough, irritated, painful, or itchy. But the medical world is still finding out exactly what causes it, what genetic factors come into play, and what the best treatment plan is.
Eczema usually begins during childhood. However, it is possible to develop it at any point during your life. Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure for eczema currently. All we can do right now is manage it during the irregular flare-ups that occur.
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is not actually a single condition. Rather, it refers to a group of conditions that cause red, dry patches on the skin. For this reason, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact causes of eczema.
So, what are the general signs and symptoms of eczema?
The most telltale sign of eczema is the patches of dry red skin. They can develop almost anywhere on the body but frequently appear on the limbs, especially in the joints. It is common to see eczema patches on the back of the knees or in the crook of the elbow, as well as on the eyelids. However, it can also develop on the face, chest, neck, or elsewhere on the body. Children are more likely to develop eczema on their face or head.
These red patches may be dry and irritated, or they may be extremely itchy. Often, the itchiness will become worse at night. The patches can range in color from bright red (often growing redder and more irritated with scratching) to brown or even gray.
In some cases, eczema flare-ups may also cause raised, bumpy skin that is severely itchy. These are sometimes filled with fluid and may pop when rubbed or scratched.
Doctors are not clear exactly how eczema is triggered, but it seems to be related in some way to allergies. People who have food or environmental allergies such as hay fever have a higher risk of developing eczema. What is more, people who suffer from eczema often recognize a certain “trigger” that causes a flare-up to occur. This might be eating a food to which they have an intolerance, wearing clothes washed in harsh laundry detergent, or having environmental allergies.
Eczema may also develop from experiencing skin irritation, such as from excess dryness during the winter.
Because of these triggers, doctors generally think that eczema may be a result of an overactive immune system. Like with allergies, the body recognizes a potentially harmful substance and goes overboard trying to protect against it. This, however, is only one theory, and no conclusive results have been found.
Complications of Eczema
For most people, eczema is an irritating issue, but it is not a dangerous one. However, complications can arise if it is not properly managed. Very irritated skin can tear and start to leak if it is scratched. If this happens, you may be at risk of infection. Signs of skin infection from eczema include red streaks (a sign of blood poisoning), leaking pus (especially discolored pus), and yellowing skin or scabs.
If your eczema is so painful or itchy that you are unable to sleep or go about your daily routine, you should seek immediate medical care. This will not only provide you with some immediate relief, but it will also give your doctor the opportunity to find out what is irritating you and how to combat the irritation.