- Itching. The itching can be intense. The damage to the skin during eczema is often due to scratching.
- Scaling. The surface of the skin can flake off, giving the skin a rough, scaly appearance.
- Redness. The affected skin may bleed and appear blotchy.
- Fluid-filled blisters. These can ooze and form crusts.
- Cracking. Severely affected skin may develop painful, deep cracks, also called fissures.
Depending on the cause, eczema may flare up and cause severe symptoms. But it can also become a chronic problem with less intense symptoms.
Here's a look at the types of eczema and their treatments.
Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema. It often affects people who also have:
- Asthma or hay fever
- Family history of eczema, asthma, or hay fever
- Defects in the skin barrier, allowing moisture out and germs in
Atopic dermatitis usually begins during infancy or childhood. But it can strike people at any age.
Most often, it affects skin on the:
- Inner elbows
- Back of the knees
Over time, scratching the skin can cause it to become thick and red. Scratching can also create wounds that become infected. Irritants that can make symptoms of atopic dermatitis worse include:
- Rough clothing
- Household chemicals
Treatments for atopic dermatitis include:
- Products to lubricate and moisturize the skin
- Steroid creams and ointments
- Drugs that control the immune system
- Antibiotics to treat infections
- Ultraviolet light, alone or with a drug called psoralen
There are two types of contact dermatitis:
- Irritant contact dermatitis
- Allergic contact dermatitis
These types of eczema can develop after a substance damages the skin. These include chemicals and frequent hand washing.
Irritant contact dermatitis can develop after touching a strong irritant one time or by coming into contact with the irritating substance repeatedly.