What Are Symptoms and Signs of Eczema?
Medical professionals sometimes refer to eczema as "the itch that rashes."
- Usually, the first symptom of eczema is intense itching.
- The rash appears later and is red and has bumps of different sizes.
- The rash itches and may burn, especially in thin skin like the eyelids.
- If it is scratched, it may ooze and become crusty.
- In adults, chronic rubbing produces thickened plaques of skin.
- Having one or more round areas is referred to as nummular (coin shaped) eczema and may be confused with fungal infections.
- Some people develop red bumps or clear fluid-filled bumps that look "bubbly" and, when scratched, add wetness to the overall appearance. This type of eczema is especially common on the sides of the finger in dyshidrotic eczema and also goes by the name pompholyx.
- Painful cracks in the skin can develop over time.
- Although the rash can be located anywhere on the body, in adults and older children, it is most often found on the neck, flexures of the arms (opposite the elbow), and flexures of legs (opposite the knee). Infants may exhibit the rash on the torso and face. It usually first appears in areas where the child can rub against sheets, since they may not have the coordination to precisely scratch yet. As the child begins to crawl, the rash involves the skin of the elbows and knees. The diaper area is often spared.
- The scalp is rarely involved.
- While the skin behind the ear may be involved, the outer ear itself is usually spared.
- Eyelids are often puffy, red, and itchy.
- The itching may be so intense that it interferes with sleep.
- While classic eczema and psoriasis are distinctly different and seldom coexist, both conditions may have severe erythrodermic (red skin) forms in which the patient has inflammation of most of the skin surface area.
- Asteatotic eczema is a term often applied to describe patients who have thin, dried, cracked-appearing skin, usually especially bad on the lower legs.
- Significant involvement of the palms and soles of the feet is not usual and may suggest a different condition such as fungal infection, scabies infestation, or allergic contact dermatitis.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/7/2016
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