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Eczema Health Center

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Understanding Eczema -- the Basics

What Is Eczema?

Picture of Eczema Eczema is a skin condition caused by inflammation of the skin.

Understanding Eczema

Find out more about ezcema:



Diagnosis and Treatment


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 of eczema.


What Causes Eczema?

Eczema runs in families. Certain genes can cause some people to have extra-sensitive skin. An overactive immune system is thought to be a factor, as well. Also, it's thought that defects in the skin barrier contribute to eczema. These defects can allow moisture out through the skin and let germs in.

Factors that may trigger eczema include:

  • Stress
  • Contact with irritating substances such as woolen and synthetic fabrics and soap
  • Heat and sweat
  • Cold, dry climates
  • Dry skin

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on March 13, 2015
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