The Progression Of Eczema
Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema almost always begins with red, itchy skin. It can show up anywhere, but most often breaks out around the eyes or on the hands, neck, elbows, knees, ankles, or feet.
For reasons scientists don’t completely understand, eczema is more common among people who have a family history of asthma, environmental allergies, or food allergies. The good news is, about half of all people outgrow eczema as they get older.
Eczema’s progression through the three stages isn’t always linear. For example, a rash may start at the acute stage and then move to the subacute and chronic stages. Or, it may start at the subacute stage and either stay there or move back to the acute stage.
The same rash may cycle through the stages many times. A rash may also start and stop at nearly any stage.
It’s not clear why eczema rashes progress from one stage to another. It may have something to do with someone coming into contact with certain triggers, undergoing hormonal changes, or possibly experiencing changes in the skin’s microbiome, which is supposed to keep your skin healthy.
How Does Weeping Eczema Affect My Body
The fluid-filled blisters that appear with weeping eczema ooze, causing wetness on the skin. The fluid dries and results in a yellow-to-orange crusty layer on your skin. Eczema is most common in areas where your skin flexes, such as behind the knees, inside the elbows and in front of the neck. However, it may develop anywhere on your body, including your:
- Swollen lymph nodes, especially in the armpit, neck or groin.
How To Tell The Difference Between Eczema And Psoriasis
The symptoms of eczema and psoriasis are very similar, which is what makes it so hard to tell the two apart, but there are a few minor distinguishing characteristics. âPsoriasis will go on the outer portion of a joint, so thatâs on the elbow itself or the top of the knees,â said Dr. Vojdani. Dr. Bhanusali added: â presents as thick scaly plaques that are sometimes itchy.â
Eczema, on the other hand, usually appears in the crease of joints, like behind the knees, in the bend of the neck, in armpits, and on eyelids. âEczema tends to present as pinkish patches,â said Dr. Bhanusali.
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What Leads To Flare
Since dry, cold air is a frequent trigger, eczema patients generally flare during the winter, Dr. Zwerner says, adding that there can be an allergic component, too. Different patients have different triggers. Patients with eczema frequently also suffer from seasonal allergies and asthma.
So while allergies to pet dander or pollens may cause symptoms, so can certain foods and other irritants. Stress and anxiety can also cause flare-ups. If you have sensitive skin and are suffering from winter skin woes, its important to consult with a dermatologist now to identify the triggers you may want to avoid.
What Foods Should I Eat Or Avoid To Reduce My Risk Of Eczema
The connection between eczema and food allergies is unclear. If you have food allergies, then one of the reasons why you must avoid that food is that it may cause or worsen dermatitis. Examples of common allergies include peanuts, dairy, eggs, sugar, alcohol and gluten. Pay attention to what you eat. If your eczema flares up after you eat a certain food, then you might have an allergy to it.
If you dont have a food allergy then there are no foods, including chicken, that will cause or worsen your eczema.
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Why Has My Skin Become Itchy And Red
Many scientists believe that this skin issue is caused by the behavior of your immune system. When you come into contact with an irritating fabric, skincare product, or other triggers, your immune system may cause you to experience inflammation. This inflammation can lead to rashes and other skin issues.
Scientists also believe that this is a hereditary condition. In other words, if your parents suffered from this skin problem, you are more likely to develop flaky skin during your lifetime. In addition, having asthma and allergies can increase your risk of experiencing this problem.
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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?
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What Causes Infection In Eczema
The commonest cause of infection in eczema is a bacterium known as Staphylococcus aureus. It thrives on the weepy, broken skin of eczema. When infected, there may be over 100 million bacteria on a patch of eczema just the size of a finger nail.
It is now known that Staphylococcus aureus is found on the skin of virtually everyone with atopic eczema, even when there are no obvious signs of infection or eczema, whereas it occurs on the skin of less than 1% of people who do not have eczema. Recent studies have shown that Staphylococcus aureus can trigger off eczema in areas of the body away from the bacteria. For example if the bacteria are found on the forearm, it can cause a flare up of eczema in the crease of the elbow joint.
There is growing scientific evidence that infection with Staphylococcus aureus makes atopic eczema worse and hinders healing. The number of bacteria on the skin has been found to multiply with the increasing severity of the eczema. Staphylococcus aureus has been shown to produce toxins which trigger an exaggerated reaction from the bodys defence system. It is thought that this over-reaction itself causes part of the problem.
This process is rather like a large, over-enthusiastic army fighting against a few invaders, and trampling the ground to pieces in the process!
Can I Prevent Infection
Because Staph. Aureus is found on the skin of almost everyone who suffers from atopic eczema, it is difficult to prevent infection. However, by treating the infection with the most appropriate medication, both the bacteria and eczema can be kept under control.
Restoring the skins barrier to infection, by reducing dryness and cracking, will help to reduce the entry points for bacteria. Intensive emollient therapy will improve the barrier function of the skin.
Other simple prevention measures include a daily bath or shower using a soap substitute and good hygiene when applying creams . If infections keep occurring, other members of the family may need to have swab tests, to see if they are carrying any skin bacteria.
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How To Heal From Eczema Scars
From seborrheic dermatitis to atopic dermatitis, there are several different types of eczema. While the different types each have defining characteristics that set them apart from one another, one common symptom is intense itchiness.
Unfortunately, relentless scratching can sometimes lead to scarring, especially if the skin cracks or bleeds. Lets take a closer look at how to heal eczema scars in our post below.
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Care For Your Skin In The Bath Or Shower
Bathe only with a mild unscented soap, such as Dove, Basis, or Olay. Use a small amount of soap. Keep the water temperature cool or warm, not hot. Soaking in the tub for a short time can be good for your skin. Doing so allows your skins outer layer to absorb water and become less dry. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Then use a soft towel to pat your skin dry without rubbing. Immediately after drying, apply a moisturizer to your skin. This helps seal in the moisture.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Eczema
- How can you tell that I have eczema?
- If I dont have eczema, what other skin condition might I have?
- Is there a specific brand of moisturizer that you recommend?
- Is there a prescription cream that you can prescribe?
- How often should I see a dermatologist regarding my eczema?
- What soaps, lotions, makeup, etc. should I avoid?
- What medications do you recommend?
- What at-home treatments do you recommend?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Eczema is very normal, very common, and very, very uncomfortable. It can affect your quality of life. At its worse it can keep you from sleeping, distract you and make you feel self-conscious in public. See your dermatologist or other healthcare provider as soon as you start to see signs of it. Explore at-home remedies and prescribed treatments.
Youre not alone! 15% to 20% of people experience eczema or another type of dermatitis at some point in their lives.
How To Know If Baby Eczema Is Healing
Baby eczema is a common skin condition thats very uncomfortable for parents and kids. Its not fun for a little one to have red, dry, cracked, and itchy skin, and its very hard for parents to watch their children be so uncomfortable. Luckily, baby eczema isnt particularly dangerous, and its easy to treat.
But how do you know if your baby is healing from his or her eczema? If the treatments are working, you should see your little ones eczema rash clear up.
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Different Stages Of Eczema
A persons eczema can present in various stages, including:
- Mild: This may be the first time a person notices eczema symptoms, which may present as a rash that starts to itch.
- Moderate: This refers to when the condition is between the acute and chronic stages. Itching may reduce, but the skin can appear flaky, cracked, or red.
- Severe: In this stage, the eczema symptoms may last for several months or longer. Itching may be intense, while rashes may cover a larger area of the skin.
Allergic contact dermatitis can be chronic, although it is more often acute.
There are seven types of eczema, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association , which are below.
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Importance Of Eczema Treatment
There is growing evidence that allergens introduced into the body through the skin can lead to the later development of food allergy, asthma and hay fever. Aggressively treating eczema in children and taking steps to restore normal skin barrier function may lower the risk of future development of these conditions.
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Skin Care Builds A Foundation For Effective Treatment
Skin care plays an important role in helping the skin heal. A skin care plan for severe AD often includes baths and moisturizer.
Baths and showers help to:
Hydrate extremely dry skin
Get rid of crusts and scales
Remove microscopic particles on the skin that may be irritating you or causing an allergic reaction
If you have frequent skin infections, your dermatologist may prescribe bleach baths. Adding a small amount of bleach to your bath water can help reduce the bacteria on your skin.
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Moisturizer helps trap water in your skin. Studies show that applying a moisturizer after bathing and frequently throughout the day can:
Reduce extremely dry skin
Help heal cracks in the skin
Prevent thickening of the skin
Researchers have found that using moisturizer frequently can reduce severe eczema. It may also reduce the need for medication.
With so many moisturizers available, your choices can feel overwhelming. Your dermatologist can recommend moisturizers that work for you without irritating your skin.
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Acute Stage Treatment Options
An over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or antihistamine can be used to suppress the immune system. Additionally, cold, wet compresses can help soothe symptoms.
Topical steroids can be prescribed to reduce inflammation. Oral steroids may be used in cases where the rash is very severe or widespread.
While antibiotics don’t clear up acute eczema, they may be prescribed if the rash is infected.
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Seattle Children’s Urgent Care Locations
If your childâs illness or injury is life-threatening, call 911.
Tips On How To Get Rid Of Eczema Naturally
If youre ready to take action and make lifestyle changes to address your eczema at the root, here are some steps you can take.
Investigate if you have an underlying food allergy or sensitivity through functional lab testing
Clean up your diet. Try to consume as many whole organic and anti-inflammatory foods as possible and avoid processed foods that are high in sugars, additives, and chemicals. Avoiding potential inflammatory foods such as: gluten, dairy and eggs while healing eczema can do wonders for your skin and immune system.
Take a look at your products. Do they contain ingredients that you just know arent good for your health? I recommend swapping out your current products with non-toxic options.
Restore your gut by taking colostrum, probiotics, and digestive enzymes.
Usenon-toxic laundry detergent, cleaning products, body wash and keep your skin hydrated with a non-toxic moisturizer.
These are starting points to healing eczema. If you are tired of dealing with flare-ups time and time again, I recommend working with a functional medicine provider to help you get to the underlying cause of your inflammation.
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Severe Ad Often Requires Expertise
A treatment plan for severe AD can have many parts. A board-certified dermatologist can tailor a treatment plan to meet your needs. While that may not completely eliminate severe AD, it can help you feel better.
ImagesImage 1: Used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.
Image 2: Getty Images
ReferencesEichenfield LF, Tom WL, et al. Guidelines of care for the management of atopic dermatitis. Section 2. Management and treatment of atopic dermatitis with topical therapies. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 71:116-32.
Kalb RE and Weinberg JM. Atopic dermatitis: New perspective on managing a chronic inflammatory disease. Global Education Group and Integritas Communications. Released: July 1, 2017.
Sidbury R, Davis DM, et al. Guidelines of care for the management of atopic dermatitis Section 3. Management and treatment with phototherapy and systemic agents. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 71:327-49.
Simpson EL, Bruin-Weller M, et al. When does atopic dermatitis warrant systemic therapy? Recommendations from an expert panel of the International Eczema Council. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2017 Oct 77:623-33.
Thyssen JP, Skov L, et al. Assessment of major comorbidities in adults with atopic dermatitis using the Charlson comorbidity index. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2017 76:1088-92.
All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology
Eczema On Face And Neck
Facts About Eczema What is atopic dermatitis? Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema. Eczema is a broad term that healthcare professionals use to describe a general group of conditions that may cause skin to become red, dry, itchy and scaly, and in severe cases, may weep, bleed and crust over, causing the sufferer much discomfort.
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Stages Of Skin Healing Eczema
Its important to note that there is no set timeline for healing eczema. As well, the healing journey isnt always a straight path. For most people, there will be good days and bad days, making it important to be patient with the process.
Acute: In the beginning phase of an acute eczema rash, youll notice intense itchiness. This type of short-term eczema usually lasts for a few weeks. It develops as a result of the skin coming into contact with an irritating substance.
Subacute: This is a transitional phase between acute and chronic eczema. Skin may begin to appear flaky or scaly, and the borders of the rash may lose some of their definition. Itchiness may feel more like a burning or stinging sensation.
Chronic: Chronic eczema is long-lasting. Accompanied by the return of intense itchiness, the skin may also become darker or discolored. For some, the skin may develop a thick leathery look. This is known as lichenification.