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Can Eczema Develop In Adulthood

Similarities Between Ad In Adults And Children

Can you develop eczema later in life?

While AD tends to change how it looks and where it appears as we age, there are still many similarities between having AD as an adult and as a child.

The list of similarities often includes that AD can:

  • Appear anywhere on the skin

  • Be intensely itchy

  • Cause sleep loss due to the itch

  • Make you feel depressed, anxious, or both

  • Lead to skin infections

ImageUsed with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. J Am Acad Dermatol 2001 44:89-93.

ReferencesEichenfield LF, Tom WL, et al. Guidelines of care for the management of atopic dermatitis. Section 1. Diagnosis and assessment of atopic dermatitis. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 70:338-51.

Ellis CN, Mancini AJ, et al. Understanding and managing atopic dermatitis in adult patients. Semin Cutan Med Surg. 2012 31:S18-22

Kanwar AJ. Adult-onset atopic dermatitis. Indian J Dermatol. 2016 Nov-Dec 61: 6623.

Kim JP, Chao LX, et al. Persistence of atopic dermatitis : A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016 75:681-7.

Silverberg JI, Vakharia PP, et al. Phenotypical differences of childhood- and adult-onset atopic dermatitis. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2017 Nov 10. pii: S2213-219830757-2.

All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology

Alcohol And Nummular Dermatitis

Heavy alcohol use can exacerbate or cause many types of skin lesions. Nummular dermatitis appears more frequently in people who abuse alcohol or drink heavily, especially in those who have abnormal liver function tests, which occur when alcohol damages the liver cells. People with this condition should consult their doctors about the risks of drinking alcohol.

Toddler And School Age Atopic Dermatitis

As children grow and develop, the distribution of the dermatitis changes. With crawling, the extensor aspects of the elbows and wrists, knees and ankles are affected. The distribution becomes flexural with walking, particularly involving the antecubital and popliteal fossae . Dribble and food can cause dermatitis around the mouth and chin. Scratching and chronic rubbing can cause the skin to become lichenified , and around the eyes can lead to eye damage. Pityriasis alba, pompholyx, discoid eczema, pityriasis amiantacea, lip lickers dermatitis, and atopic dirty neck are various manifestations of atopic dermatitis seen particularly in school-age children and adolescents. During the school years, atopic dermatitis often improves, although the barrier function of the skin is never completely normal .

Childhood atopic dermatitis
Atopic dirty neck

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Eczema In Teens And Adults

While most people outgrow atopic dermatitis by the time they are teenagers, it can persist into adulthood. For others, childhood eczema that had cleared up years prior may reemerge.

Eczema can also develop for the very first time in adulthood this is called adult-onset eczema. Some of the prime years for developing adult-onset eczema include middle age and older. Skin naturally becomes drier as people get older, leaving it more vulnerable.

In teens and adults, eczema classically involves:

  • Creases of the elbows
  • Around the eyes or on the eyelids
  • Nipples

Eczema most often affects areas exposed to allergens or irritants, as well as flexural areas that are easily scratched. Adults may find their skin becomes thickened and leathery-looking in areas affected by the rash.

There are other skin conditions that look very similar to eczema, including contact dermatitis, psoriasis, and rosacea. It’s important to see a healthcare provider if you develop rash symptoms for the first time as an adult to ensure you get the correct diagnosis and treatment.

What Is The Outcome For Atopic Dermatitis

What Causes Eczema in Adults?

Atopic dermatitis affects 1520% of children and is less common in adults. Sensitive skin persists lifelong. It is impossible to predict whether atopic dermatitis will improve by itself or not in an individual. A meta-analysis including over 110,000 subjects found that 20% of children with atopic dermatitis had persistent disease 8 years later fewer than 5% had persistent disease 20 years later. Children who developed atopic dermatitis before the age of 2 years had a lower risk of persistent disease than those who developed atopic dermatitis later in childhood or adolescence.

Atopic dermatitis is typically worst between the ages of two and four years, and often improves or even clears after this. However, atopic dermatitis may be aggravated or reappear in adult life due to exposure to irritants or allergens related to caregiving, domestic duties, or certain occupations.

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Why Am I Getting Eczema As An Adult

Now a year-plus into a pandemic that has only just started to reveal a light at the end of the tunnel, our skin has been through the proverbial gauntlet. Staying inside all the time took some getting used to, from having to build safe, new daily routines to discovering entirely virtual ways to nurture our relationships. Our complexions had to acclimate, too, presenting us with an influx of skin concerns, like dryness, hyperpigmentation, and even a little phenomenon we now call “maskne,” all essentially overnight.

But there’s something else you may have been experiencing, and it could be one you’ve never encountered before: eczema.

Atopic dermatitis, or eczema, is a condition where the skin barrier is not working as well as it should be,” says Joshua Zeichner, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “The outer skin layer develops microscopic cracks, leading to loss of hydration and inflammation.”

If you’re one of the roughly 31.6 million Americans who have some form of eczema, you understand that off paper, this clinical definition really translates to dry and sensitive skin that can become itchy, red, and scaly. While patients will often develop patches on the insides of the elbows and knees, eczema can crop up almost anywhere on the body.

The Main Causes Of Allergic Contact Eczema

  • Nickel found mainly in metals used to make costume jewelry, glasses frames and mobile phones
  • Preservatives and other ingredients in cosmetics, fragrances, cleansers or sun care products
  • Even fragrances and essential oils in so-called organic cosmetics
  • Components of clothing and footwear .

Work-related contact eczema

Some products or objects commonly used in certain professions can cause contact eczema. Adhesives, dyes, gloves, industrial oils… the list is endless!

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Can You Get Eczema As An Adult

Eczema or psoriasis? Managing eczema in summertimeNickel allergySevere atopic dermatitis

Adults can get any type of eczema, including atopic dermatitis , which many people consider a childhood disease.

When AD begins after your 18th birthday, dermatologists call it adult-onset atopic dermatitis. Youd receive this diagnosis if you never had AD before. A peak time for developing adult-onset AD is in your 50s.

AD and the eyes

In adults, atopic dermatitis often develops on skin around the eyes.

Some adults who have AD had it as a child. Its possible for AD to go away in childhood and return years later. When the AD returns, its often much milder.

For some children, the AD never goes away, so its a lifelong disease. This happened to Peter Moffat, the award-winning writer of the British TV series Criminal Justice. You can read about how AD affects his life by going to: Adults with eczema too often suffer in silence

Differences Between Ad In Adults And Children

How can you treat eczema in children and adults?

Even if you had AD as a child, your skin can look and feel differently when you have AD as an adult. Thats actually one of the most striking differences between AD in adults and AD in children.

In adults, the skin tends to be extremely dry and scaly where the AD appears.

If youve had AD for years, patches of your skin may be thick, leathery, and darker than the surrounding skin. Years of scratching causes this. The thickened skin can itch all the time.

Adults also tend to get AD on different parts of their bodies than do children. When an adult has AD, its most likely to form in one or more of these areas:

  • Backs of the knees

  • Back of the neck

  • Face

Adults, unlike children, often have AD around their eyes. Youll often see thickened, darker skin circling the eyes, as shown in the picture on this page. The skin around the eyes also tends to be very itchy.

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When Does It Develop

Most teens outgrow eczema in teenagers, however, it can also persist into adulthood. It most commonly develops on creases of the elbow, behind the knees, hands, scalp, around the eyes, or on the eyelids and nipples. Eczema severity can vary from teen to teen. It tends to come and go. When its getting worse, it is called a flare-up.

Types Of Adult Eczema

Although an adult can develop atopic eczema it is more common later in life to develop some of the other forms of eczema. Eczema of the hands is one of the most common forms of adult eczema especially as our hands are used in almost every aspect of our lives and an allergy or sensitivity can result in all sorts of problems with the skin on the hands.

Nummular Eczema and Dyshidrotic eczema are also far more common in adults than children.

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What Is The Root Cause Of Eczema

In leaky gut syndrome, fragments of protein and bacteria reach the sensitive immune centers in the gut, triggering the immune system to produce antibodies to mount a reaction against these foods. Leaky gut syndrome is associated with food allergies, food sensitivities, and other autoimmune diseases, such as eczema.

Living With Atopic Dermatitis

ID:8460173426 #TurnkeyHydroponicSystems in 2020

For eczema sufferers, the frequent, severe itching and unpredictability of flare-ups is frustrating. It can be hard to sleep and the sometimes disfiguring or unattractive lesions can cause self-consciousness, leading to social withdrawal and higher than normal incidences of anxiety and depression.

Years ago I scratched so much that I had constant sores on my hands, feet and legs, but things are much better now.”

Ellen Scheib of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a 64-year-old medical transcriptionist, developed a severe case of atopic dermatitis at 45. It started with a patch on her forehead, spread rapidly to other areas of her body, and at times, she says, I was covered with bleeding, oozing lesions from my neck to my toes.

For years, she underwent skin biopsies and hospitalizations, receiving differing diagnoses and becoming increasingly discouraged. Periods of fewer flare-ups were followed by a resurgence of symptoms.

After finally receiving a definitive diagnosis of atopic dermatitis, she began injections of a novel biologic drug every other week and things dramatically improved. For the first time in decades, she has weathered the hot Florida sun in shorts, sleeveless shirts and bathing suits.

It has been a strange summer, but I feel like this medication has given me a life again, Scheib says.

Hine also takes a daily antihistamine, uses a dehumidifier and soaks in a weekly lukewarm bath with colloidal oatmeal or baking soda.

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What Eczema Looks Like Pictures

You might notice itchy patches 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. People who had atopic dermatitis as a child may see drier, scaly rashes as adults.

Eczema Causes And Risk Factors

Eczema affects the visible, very outer part of the skin called the corneal layer. The corneal layer belongs to part of the skin called the epidermis, which sits on top of the middle layer and the innermost layer .

The corneal layer is important for keeping the body protected from things like microbes or harmful bacteria that can enter through cuts and penetrate into deeper layers of the skin. Because its a protective layer, the corneal is constantly renewing itself, shedding old damaged cells and growing new, healthy ones in their place. This process helps keep the barrier of the skin strong and resilient in healthy people without eczema but becomes disrupted in those with eczema due to inflammation.

When someone has eczema, the process of shedding and renewing corneal skin cells becomes disrupted. Reasons for this include:

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How Is Eczema Diagnosed What Tests Are Done

Your healthcare provider will take a close look at your skin. They will look for classic signs of eczema such as a redness and dryness. They will ask about the symptoms youre experiencing.

Usually your healthcare provider will be able to diagnose eczema based on examining your skin. However, when there is doubt, they may perform the following tests:

  • An allergy skin test.
  • Blood tests to check for causes of the rash that might be unrelated to dermatitis.
  • A skin biopsy to distinguish one type of dermatitis from another.

Emollients For Washing And Bath/shower Equipment

Dyshidrotic Eczema ( POMPHOLYX ) : Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment – Dr. Nischal K | Doctors’ Circle

Soaps, shower gels and bubble baths can dry out the skin. Its best to use an emollient soap substitute or a cream-based leave-on emollient as a soap substitute.

Your GP may refer you to the Community Occupational Therapy Service if you need special bath/shower equipment for safety or if you have difficulty getting in or out of the bath/shower. They can fit a bath seat, grab-rails, a seat in the shower or an alarm if you get into difficulties.

Bath emollients make the shower tray and bath more slippery. Use non-slip bath mats to help reduce the risk of slipping. Support bars fixed to the wall in the shower or by the bath will provide extra safety when showering/bathing. Pour bath emollient into the bath after you get in rather than before. As an extra precaution its a good idea to empty out bath water before getting out of the bath. Be careful not to knock your legs, as this could lead to ulcers. Use a bandage or pad under support stockings for extra protection.

For more detailed information on emollients for moisturising and washing, please download our Emollients factsheet.

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What Questions Might My Healthcare Provider Ask To Diagnose Eczema

The conversation with your healthcare provider will need to cover a lot of information. Be sure to be specific about your symptoms.

  • Where is your eczema located?
  • What have you used to try to treat your eczema?
  • What medical conditions do you have? Allergies? Asthma?
  • Is there a history of eczema in your family?
  • How long have you had symptoms of eczema?
  • Do you take hot showers?
  • Is there anything that makes your symptoms worse?
  • Have you noticed that something triggers or worsens your eczema? Soaps? Detergents? Cigarette smoke?
  • Is there so much itchiness that you have trouble sleeping? Working? Living your normal life?

Symptoms Of Atopic Eczema

Atopic eczema causes the skin to become itchy, dry, cracked and sore.

Some people only have small patches of dry skin, but others may experience widespread inflamed skin all over the body.

Inflamed skin can become red on lighter skin, and darker brown, purple or grey on darker skin. This can also be more difficult to see on darker skin.

Although atopic eczema can affect any part of the body, it most often affects the hands, insides of the elbows, backs of the knees and the face and scalp in children.

People with atopic eczema usually have periods when symptoms are less noticeable, as well as periods when symptoms become more severe .

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Southern Cross Medical Library

The purpose of the Southern Cross Medical Library is to provide information of a general nature to help you better understand certain medical conditions. Always seek specific medical advice for treatment appropriate to you. This information is not intended to relate specifically to insurance or healthcare services provided by Southern Cross. For more articles go to the Medical Library index page.

Cause: Poor Blood Flow

Eczema can be a year

Some people with discoid eczema have stasis dermatitis, which makes the initial condition worse. Statis dermatitis affects mostly adults who have an existing circulation problem and a challenge getting blood flow to the lower legs. Improper blood flow damages the skin which, even in healthy individuals, only receives 1.7 percent of the blood flow from the heart. This is already less oxygen than other organs and tissues receive. Poor circulation weakens the skin’s natural defenses that fight eczema.

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Remember Treatment Is Possible

If you’re suffering from red, flaky skin as an adult, there’s both good news and bad news. “We can’t cure eczema, but we can keep it under control,” says Zeichner, who typically treats eczema in adults the same way as in children. It all starts with getting the skin barrier in good shape while reducing inflammation. And it may, depending on the eczema’s severity, be completely treatable via topical prescriptions when paired with certain over-the-counter products.

“For all ages, moisturizing and supporting the skin barrier is the mainstay of maintenance,” says Hadley King, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “That means using moisturizers that contain humectants to hydrate, emollients to support the skin barrier, and occlusives to lock in the moisture, several times daily.”

Where On The Body Are The Patches Located

The hands, face and especially the eyelids are very often affected in adults. In some cases, however, patches appear in large skin folds and other areas of the body.

Face, arms, stomach, legs…

Inflammatory flare-ups can affect the entire skin surface . These widespread episodes are serious, possibly leading to complications such as infections and metabolic disorders, and require hospitalization.

A particular case: “head and neck” dermatitis

A particular form of atopic eczema in adults appears exclusively, or predominantly, on the face and neck. Here, we look for a potential abnormal sensitivity to the sun which may be caused by, among other things, a secondary yeast infection.


Treatments for atopic eczema are usually combined with an anti-inflammation corticosteroid treatment to calm flare-ups, and with an emollient which is critical for hydrating and thus repairing the skin.

A more peaceful daily life

Atopic skin is especially sensitive, and seemingly ordinary stimuli can trigger eczema flare-ups. It is helpful to know about the good habits to adopt in terms of cosmetics, diet and more. Various tools are available to lead a more peaceful professional and social life on a daily basis and to eliminate stress as an aggravating factor.

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