Do I Have Eczema?
What Are The Signs Of Eczema?
Note: Eczema is also called atopic dermatitis and atopic eczema.
1. Red area of skin.
2. Itching, especially at night.
3. Small, fluid-filled blisters.
4. Dry, scaly or cracked skin.
5. Thick patches of skin, the result of regular scratching.
If you have these symptoms, you probably have eczema!
This common skin condition typically appears on the creases of the skin of the wrists, back of the knees and elbows.
It produces clusters of itchy red patches which can ooze blood or pus if scratched.
Atopic eczema (the fancy medical term for it!) provokes unbearable itching, as every eczema sufferer knows. The itch cries out to be scratched, and scratching is the major cause of the visible rash. If left untouched, the skin does not erupt into eczema, although it may still turn red.
Once eczema has erupted, the protective layer of the skin breaks and loses its natural moisture far more readily, so the dryness gets worse. At the same time allergens and irritants penetrate more easily, causing yet more inflammation.
Infections - another vicious circle
When eczema erupts and the skin is broken, infections often become a problem. A regular source of trouble is the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, a cause of the infection impetigo. This nasty little microbe invades eczema-damaged skin far more readily than healthy skin, causing an ooze with golden-yellow crusting.
Impetigo, yellow crusted skin
Staphylococcus aureus produces a toxin known as a 'super-antigen' which revs up the immune system. This effort does not, unfortunately, kill the bacteria, but it does make the skin inflammation even worse.
Infection from fungi (yeasts and molds) is also a problem in atopic eczema. For example the fungus that causes athlete's foot can sometimes attack the hands in chronic eczema sufferers. Undetected fungus infections can be a cause of severe eczema that does not respond to treatment. A prolonged course of an anti-fungal drug may work wonders in this instance.
The herpes virus, responsible for causing cold sores, can also invade eczema-damaged skin, although this is much rarer. If infected, it worsens the eczema and produces fever and general weakness. There may also be flocks of small red bumps, each with a tiny dimple or blister at the center.
Any symptoms of this kind indicate that the patient needs urgent treatment.
Next: What causes eczema?
What is eczema? Easy guide to atopic eczema.
What is the best moisturizer for eczema?
Best creams with NEA ratings.
How to moisturize your skin if you have eczema.
10 tips every person with eczema needs to know.
What is the treatment for eczema? 5 step program.
How to stop scratching eczema. Essential advice!
Skin care questions: Dry skin & skin types explained.
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