Eczema is a very common skin condition. An estimated 30 million Americans are reported to be affected by some form of eczema. The cause behind the occurrence of eczema is not known but is often linked with genetical influences and environmental factors. The skin condition can be easily aggravated as a result of common triggers.
Although, the ailment can’t be cured, it can be managed by adopting a proper daily-care regime, following a specific diet plan and avoiding the triggers. The course of treatment varies from individual to individual depending on their symptoms and severity of the condition.
Hence, an important factor of the discussion is the symptoms of eczema. The signs or symptoms are a response generated by the body against infection. In most of the cases, it is the visible symptoms that indicate the onset of a disease.
While in most ailments, different people experience the same symptoms, in case of eczema, the signs vary for everyone. People around the globe are affected by different forms of eczema. The varied types cause similar signs in distinct parts of the body.
The main and common symptoms of the skin condition are:
- Itching: Eczema makes the skin dry that results in severe itching in the affected area. Scratching the skin causes damage and eczema flare-ups.
- Scaling: As the surface of the skin is dry, it tends to flake-off, making the dermis appear rough and scaly.
- Redness: Redness of the skin patch can be associated with scratching. Forceful rubbing can even result in bleeding and cause the skin to appear blotchy.
- Fluid-filled blisters: Eczema often results in the formation of pus or fluid-filled blisters that can ooze and form crusts.
- Cracking: In severe cases, the damaged skin may develop deep and painful cracks, also known as fissures.
Depending on the cause and sternness of the condition, the symptoms may aggravate and result in eczema flare-up. While in some cases, eczema may develop into a chronic ailment with less intense symptoms.
Different types of Eczema and their symptoms
- Asthma or hay fever
- Family history of eczema, asthma or hay fever
- Improper skin barrier that causes skin to lose its moisture and become susceptible to microbial and fungal infection
The onset of this skin condition, AD, is normally seen during infancy or childhood. However, it can affect an individual at any age.
The symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis are most often observed on the following skin areas:
- Inner elbows
- Back of the knees
Some common symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis:
- Dry and scaly skin
- Rashes on the cheeks, arms and legs
- Open, crusted or “weepy” sores especially during flare-ups
Contact Dermatitis develops when the skin comes in contact with irritating substances or allergens that make the skin inflamed, cause burning sensation, itching and redness.
There are two types of contact dermatitis:
- Irritant contact dermatitis – develops after an individual comes in contact with an irritating substance once or repeatedly (depends on the body’s reaction against the irritant).
- Allergic contact dermatitis – develops when an individual comes in contact with an allergen.
Contact Dermatitis often affects:
- Body part that comes in contact with the irritant or allergen
Symptoms of contact dermatitis include:
- Redness and rash
- Burning sensation and swelling
- Weeping or crusted blisters
Dyshidrotic dermatitis affects the hands and feet. Symptoms of this eczema type are observed on the edges of the fingers, toes, palms, and soles of the feet.
Symptoms of dyshidrotic eczema include:
- Small fluid-filled blisters
- Scaly, cracked skin
Nummular eczema is also known as discoid eczema and nummular dermatitis. This common form of eczema can affect an individual at any age and is reported to be more common amongst men than in women.
Nummular dermatitis symptoms most often appear on the:
- Backs of the hands
- Lower back
Common symptoms of nummular eczema include:
- Round, coin-shaped marks
- Dry, scaly skin
- Wet, open sores
Neurodermatitis, also known as lichen simplex chronicus, is a form of eczema that develops as a result of excessive rubbing and scratching of skin (out of habit).
Neurodermatitis often affects these areas:
- Sides or back of the neck
- Inside and behind the ear
Some symptoms of neurodermatitis:
- Thick, scaly patches
- Discolored skin
This type of eczema is commonly known as dandruff. In case of infants, it affects the scalp.
In adults, Seborrheic dermatitis often affects the following areas:
- Sides of the nose
- Area behind the ears
- Center of chest
Seborrheic dermatitis symptoms include:
- Flaky skin (dandruff)
- Patches of greasy skin covered with flaky white or yellow scales or crust
- Redness or crusting
Stasis dermatitis, also known as venous stasis dermatitis, generally happens as a result of improper blood flow in the veins that develops pressure (usually in the lower legs). The developed pressure forces the fluid to ooze out of the veins and into the skin, causing stasis dermatitis.
Symptoms of stasis dermatitis include:
- Swelling around the ankles
And in more severe cases:
- Open areas (cracking or larger ulcers)
Symptoms of Eczema in Babies
The symptoms of eczema vary as infants grow into toddlers and older. The appearance and the affected area starts to differ as the baby grows older. Each stage of the baby’s life exhibits different symptoms of eczema in babies that are as follows:
Stage 1 – Babies (during the initial six months):
Atopic Dermatitis often affects the following areas:
During this period of time, AD causes itchy, dry, purple epidermis, small bumps on the affected areas.
Moreover, the skin condition is not restricted to the mentioned areas and can also infect other body parts. The diaper area is most likely to be least affected by eczema due to moisture.
Stage 2 – Babies (during the six to 12 months stage):
During this phase, eczema usually grows to the elbows and knees area. The skin condition results in circular, fairly raised, itchy, and scaly rashes. The locations are easily scratchable, hence, it is necessary to prevent the baby to itch-scratch the affected dermis. Scratching causes infection that results in aggravated skin conditions.
Stage 3 – Toddlers (during the two to five years stage):
During this stage, eczema often spreads to the creases of elbows and knees, affects your toddler’s hands, wrists and ankles. Eczema may even spread to the toddler’s mouth and the eyelids. The ailment causes the skin to become dry and scaly with deep thick lines.
Stage 4 – Older children (five years and above):
Around this age, your child’s eczema is expected to affect the folds of elbows and knees or may spread to the hands. There are chances of red and itchy patches behind the ears, on their feet or scalp. It is recommended that you consult the dermatologist in order to diagnose the form of eczema developed/developing during this stage. A specialist can analyze the symptoms and provide a better advice.
Managing these symptoms can help treat the condition upto certain extent. In addition, it is important that an individual adopts remedies according to their symptoms to treat the condition. Medical advice is highly preferable and recommended to overcome eczema.