What is Eczema?
Sometimes it’s called “the itch that rashes,” because the itching usually comes first. This group of skin rashes may first appear in babies and toddlers, becoming drier and flaky in older children. Adults may see scaly, leathery rashes or a stubborn hand eczema. Atopic dermatitis is a common, often-inherited form, but there are other types.
What type rash is Eczema?
Eczema starts as a cluster of blisters that progresses into a thick, scaly, intensely itchy skin rash. Atopic dermatitis is a form of eczema related to the same immune reaction that underlies allergy and asthma (atopic disease). The condition tends to be chronic.
What does eczema look like when it starts?
You might notice itchy rashes on the hands, elbows, and in the “bending” areas of the body, such as the inside of the elbows and back of the knees. But eczema can appear anywhere, including the neck, chest, and eyelids. Children who had atopic dermatitis may see drier, while adults may see scaly rashes.
Itching is the main one. And when you start to scratch, your skin becomes inflamed and even itchier. It can look different, but you may notice:
- Red, scaly areas
- Small, rough bumps
- Thick, leathery rashes
- Bumps that leak fluid and crust over
If you have dark skin, the affected area might be lighter or darker.
If a rash won’t go away, is uncomfortable, or develops a crust or pus-filled blister, you need to see your doctor. She’ll check your medical history, symptoms, and ask you about any allergies that run in your family. You may also get allergy tests or a microscopic exam of a skin scraping to rule out infections.
Doctors don’t know exactly what causes eczema, the most common form of eczema. Your genes, environment, and other things likely all play a role. An immune system problem could create inflammation in the skin. Emotional disorders aren’t a cause, but stress can make symptoms worse.
Eczema in children
Kids can get skin rash on the inside of their elbows or behind the knees, around their mouths, on the sides of their necks, or on wrists, arms, and hands. Those with eczema are more likely to have food allergies, including allergies to peanuts, milk, or other nuts. But you shouldn’t restrict foods unless your doctor confirms a food sensitivity. It’s not contagious, either.
Eczema in adults
You might notice itchy rashes on the hands, elbows, and in the “bending” areas of the body, such as the inside of the elbows and back of the knees. But eczema can appear anywhere, including the neck, chest, and eyelids. The skin may be discolored or thickened.