Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Eczema Health Center

Font Size

3 Questions About Eczema

An interview with expert Asriani M. Chiu, MD, on eczema symptoms, causes, and prevention.
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

If your child has a dry, itchy skin rash on the elbow, eczema is most likely to blame.

According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, atopic, or allergy-related, eczema affects up to 30% of Americans, mostly kids, and the figure is on the rise.

Recommended Related to Eczema

Understanding Eczema -- the Basics

Eczema is a skin condition caused by inflammation of the skin. Typically, eczema causes skin to become itchy, red, and dry -- even cracked and leathery. Eczema can appear on any part of the body. Eczema is a chronic problem for many people. It is most common in infants, many of whom outgrow it before adulthood. People with eczema have a higher risk of developing allergic conditions like asthma or hay fever. Atopic dermatitis is the most common of the many types...

Read the Understanding Eczema -- the Basics article > >

At a meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in New Orleans, WebMD spoke with Asriani M. Chu, MD, associate professor of pediatrics and medicine in the division of allergy and immunology at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, about eczema.

What are the symptoms of eczema?

The hallmark is a very itchy skin rash. It is a flatter, red rash as opposed to hives, which are more like raised, itchy, mosquito bite kind of bumps.

The location of the rash is also a telltale sign. In kids, it tends to affect the elbows or behind the knees. Adults tend to have the hands affected. It's often worse in the wintertime, when it’s cold and the air is dry inside due to heaters.

What are the most common causes of eczema?

If an allergic cause is identified, it is going to be more related to foods. Those foods could include commonly allergenic foods such as peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, and milk, for example. There have also been some studies that identified dust mite allergy as being a contributing factor. It is more likely to happen if somebody has a family history.

Are there any practical things that you can do to prevent eczema?

The really important thing is the dysregulation between your body’s moisture level and hydration. So you want to keep skin well moisturized and rehydrated.

Some practical things include bathing at least daily in water that is not too hot. If it’s too hot it can take away the essential oils in the skin. You also don’t want to bathe too long because that can also dry the skin out. After you use kind of lukewarm water in your bath, maybe 10 minutes in length, pat dry the skin -- don’t rub it dry -- and then use moisturizers that are fragrance-free so they're not irritating to the skin.

If your health care provider has prescribed any topical prescription ointments, you would want to use those prescription ointments first, then the moisturizers.

One of the other things that we mention is that “eczema is the itch that rashes, not the rash that itches.” So there may be times that the doctor may prescribe an allergy medication or anti-itching medication so that the person doesn’t scratch all the time.

Reviewed on December 05, 2011

Today on WebMD

woman meditating
Learn how to deal with a key trigger: stress.
Getting your eczema under control?
man with eczema
Does it affect your eczema?
makeup brushes and foundation
And be educated when shopping for cosmetics.
Antipsychotic Drugs Blood Clots
Eczema Emotional Effects
young woman touching skin
Eczema on arm

Itching for Relief?

Get Help With the

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.