What is Eczema (Dermatitis)

Inflammatory reaction of the skin in which there is erythema (reddening), edema (swelling), papules (bumps), and crusting of the skin followed, finally, by lichenification (thickening) and scaling of the skin. Eczema causes itching and burning of the skin.

Atopic eczema, which is also called atopic dermatitis, is a very common skin problem. It may start in infancy, later in childhood, or in adulthood. Once it gets underway, it tends not to go quickly away.

Types of Eczema

  • Allergic contact eczema (dermatitis) – a reaction where the skin has come into contact with a substance that the immune system recognizes as foreign
  • Contact eczema – a localized reaction where the skin has come into contact with an allergen
  • Dyshidriotic eczema – irritation of skin on palms of hands and soles of feet, characterized by blisters
  • Neurodermatitis – scaly patches of skin on head, forearms, wrists, lower legs caused by localized itch such as an insect bite
  • Nummular eczema – circular patches of irritated skin that can be crusted, scaling and itchy
  • Seborrheic eczema – oily, scaly yellowish patches of skin, usually on scalp and face
  • Stasis dermatitis- skin irritation on lower legs, usually related to circulatory problems.

Sign and Symptoms of Eczema

  • Dry, sensitive skin
  • Intense itching
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Recurring rash
  • Scaly areas
  • Rough, leathery patches
  • Oozing or crusting
  • Areas of swelling
  • Dark colored patches of skin

How to prevent Eczema

  • Moisturize every day.
  • Wear cotton or soft fabrics. Avoid rough, scratchy fibers and tight clothing.
  • Take lukewarm baths and showers, using mild soap or non-soap cleanser
  • Gently pat your skin dry with a soft towel – do not rub.
  • Apply a moisturizer within 3 minutes after bathing to “lock in” moisture.
  • When possible, avoid rapid changes of temperature and activities that make you sweat.
  • Learn your eczema triggers and avoid them.
  • Use a humidifier in dry or cold weather.
  • Keep your fingernails short to help keep scratching from breaking the skin.
  • Some people with allergies find it helps to remove carpets from their house, and give pets dander treatments.


  • Bathing and moisturizing to repair skin barrier
  • Prescription treatments to reduce inflammation and bacteria
  • Trigger avoidance to reduce flare ups
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