Patches of red, blistering, itchy skin, also known as dermatitis.
The main feature of eczema is red, inflamed, itchy skin that is often covered with small, fluid filled blisters. In long-standing eczema, the affected skin may become thickened as a result of persistent scratching. Eczema tends to recur intermittently throughout life.
There are several different types of eczema. Some are triggered by particular factors, but others, such as nummular eczema, occur for no known reason.
This is the most common form of eczema. It usually appears first in infancy and may continue to flare up during adolescence and adulthood. The cause of the condition is not known, but people, who have an inherited tendency to allergies, including asthma, are more susceptible to it. Flare ups in adulthood are sometimes linked to stress, temperature change, or an allergic reaction to certain foods. Often, there is no obvious reason for them.
What are the symptoms?
The rash usually appears in patches, typically on the hands as well as in skin creases in areas such as the wrists, the backs of the knees, and the insides of the elbows. The symptoms may include:
- Redness and swelling of the skin
- Small, fluid-filled blisters
- Itching especially at night
- Dry, scaly and cracked skin
- Thickened skin as a result of continuous scratching
Bacterial infection sometimes develops in the affected area, resulting in further swelling and discomfort.
What is the medical treatment?
Your doctor will probably be able to diagnose eczema from your symptoms. They may suggest a topical corticosteroid to reduce the inflammation. You should apply this sparingly and reduce the frequency of use when the rash begins to clear up. Avoid using topical corticosteroids on the face unless directed otherwise by your doctor. Oral antihistamines may help to relieve the itching. If the rash is infected, you will be prescribed oral antibiotics or topical antibiotics/ you can relieve the symptoms by using emollients and specially formulated bath oil that you can buy over the counter. Self-help measures can be used between flare-ups.