What Does Atopic Dermatitis Look Like
Atopic dermatitis can present itself as either a widespread, flat rash, or as thick, scaly patches. If you have drier skin, you may notice small, discolored bumps on your arms and thighs. Over time, the affected parts of your skin may change in tone and texture. This is due to long-term irritation and constant scratching, which can make your skin look lighter or darker with a thick, leather-like appearance. Permanent scarring is another possibility.
What Symptoms Should You Watch For
Visually, it can sometimes be difficult to tell one condition from the other.
You have to look at all the clinical aspects of a rash to distinguish between eczema and psoriasis, including the history and the patients other medical problems, Dr. Fernandez says.
The common signs dry and/or cracked scaly skin, itching and red patches or plaques may show up for either.
With psoriasis, the plaques on your skin are likely thicker and have dry scaling. But sometimes thats not enough to tell between the two with the naked eye, Dr. Fernandez says.
A more obvious clue fluid leaking through the skin points to eczema.
When we see that, we definitely think about eczema instead of psoriasis, he says. But there are definitely times when we cannot tell the difference. And, in those cases, we will perform biopsies.
How Can Parents Help
Help prevent or treat eczema by keeping your child’s skin from getting dry or itchy and avoiding triggers that cause flare-ups. Try these suggestions:
- Kids should take short baths or showers in warm water. Use mild unscented soaps or non-soap cleansers and pat the skin dry before putting on cream or ointment. Teens should use unscented makeup and oil-free facial moisturizers.
- Ask your doctor if it’s OK to use oatmeal soaking products in the bath to help control itching.
- Kids should wear soft clothes that “breathe,” such as those made from cotton. Wool or polyester may be too harsh or irritating.
- Keep your child’s fingernails short to prevent skin damage from scratching. Try having your child wear comfortable, light gloves to bed if scratching at night is a problem.
- Kids should avoid becoming overheated, which can lead to flare-ups.
- Kids should drink plenty of water, which adds moisture to the skin.
- Get rid of known allergens in your household and help your child avoid others, like pollen, mold, and tobacco smoke.
- Stress can make eczema worse. Help your child find ways to deal with stress .
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Are The Causes Of Eczema And Ringworm Different
The cause of eczema is less clear. Doctors believe itâs the result of both genetic and environmental factors.
In addition, certain things can trigger an outbreak or âflare-upâ of eczema. These can differ from person to person, but some things are more common than others, like:
- Soaps, fragrances, household cleaners that irritate the skin
- Cigarette smoke
- Fabrics like wool or polyester
- Antibacterial ointments and wipes
There are no âtriggersâ for an outbreak of ringworm. You either have the infection or you donât.
How Do Symptoms Of Eczema And Ringworm Compare
Both eczema and ringworm tend to inflame and redden the skin and can make it dry, swollen, crusty, and itchy. In addition, both can happen almost anywhere on the body, head to toe.
One symptom that sometimes helps tell the difference is that ringworm often produces a scaly, ring-shaped rash, typically on the trunk, arms, or legs. But nummular, or âdiscoid,â eczema also produces a round, scaly rash that can look like ringworm.
If you think you have ringworm, but over-the-counter remedies fail to work, it may be time to see your doctor. You may have eczema, psoriasis, or some other skin condition. Only your doctor can tell for sure the source of your symptoms.
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Can You Have More Than One Type Of Eczema At The Same Time
For many patients, the challenging truth is that you can experience more than one type of eczema at the same time. Not only that, you can experience all of the different types of eczema, at different times, throughout the course of your lifetime. Dr. Lio explained that he frequently sees allergic contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis in the same patient. Its very tough to separate them sometimes, he said, but that is why patch testing is so important.
Knowing that each type of eczema has a unique profile, its especially important to connect with a dermatologist who can recognize and diagnose all seven types of eczema. Check out our summary of each type of eczema for more information about symptoms and triggers.
How Do I Know If My Rash Is Eczema
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.
Also Check: How To Help Eczema Flare Ups
When To Seek Medical Advice
See a GP if you have symptoms of atopic eczema. They’ll usually be able to diagnose atopic eczema by looking at your skin and asking questions, such as:
- whether the rash is itchy and where it appears
- when the symptoms first began
- whether it comes and goes over time
- whether there’s a history of atopic eczema in your family
- whether you have any other conditions, such as allergies or asthma
- whether something in your diet or lifestyle may be contributing to your symptoms
Typically, to be diagnosed with atopic eczema you should have had an itchy skin condition in the last 12 months and 3 or more of the following:
- visibly irritated red skin in the creases of your skin such as the insides of your elbows or behind your knees at the time of examination by a health professional
- a history of skin irritation occurring in the same areas mentioned above
- generally dry skin in the last 12 months
- a history of asthma or hay fever children under 4 must have an immediate relative, such as a parent, brother or sister, who has 1 of these conditions
- the condition started before the age of 2
How Is Eczema Or Atopic Dermatitis Diagnosed
A diagnosis of eczema is based on the characteristic rash as well as a history of symptoms and a family and personal medical history.
Your doctor will conduct a physical examination, paying close attention to the state of your skin, and may perform a skin biopsy to confirm the diagnosis and also to rule out other skin conditions.
To better understand your symptoms and their potential causes, your doctor will also ask you a number of questions about your:
- Family and personal history of allergic conditions, including hay fever and asthma
- Exposure to irritants and allergens
- Sleep habits
- Use of medication
- Previous treatments for skin-related issues
Your doctor may also give you a blood test to look for indications of a recent immune reaction, such as high levels ofeosinophils or antibodies calledimmunoglobulin E . Your physician will also perform allergy tests to determine possible allergic triggers for your skin flare-ups.
Also Check: How To Make Eczema Bumps Go Away
Triggers Of Eczema Flare
- Soaps. Never use bubble bath. It can cause a major flare-up.
- Pollens. Keep your child from lying on the grass during grass pollen season.
- Animals. Avoid any animals that make the rash worse.
- Foods. If certain foods cause severe itching , avoid them.
- Wool. Avoid wool fibers and clothes made of other scratchy, rough materials.
- Dry Air. Use a humidifier if the air in your home is dry.
- Herpes Virus Infection . Keep your child away from anyone with fever blisters . The herpes virus can cause a serious skin infection in children with eczema.
- Eczema is not caused by laundry soap you use to wash clothing.
Is There One Type Of Eczema That Is The Most Different From The Other Six Types
If the itchiness is universal, and if soap and detergents can trigger any type of eczema, we asked Dr. Lio if there were any subcategories of eczema that stood apart from the rest. The most different might be seborrheic dermatitis, he said. It is intimately connected to a yeast on the skin that does not seem to be playing the same role in other types of eczema. He added that contact dermatitis is different, as well, because a patient may have one key trigger for a flare and frequently when that flare is removed, the skin becomes 100% perfect and clear, unlike the other forms of eczema that have many potential triggers.
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Why You Have Red Itchy Flaky Skin: Let Us Count The Ways
Does your unpredictable skin have you seeing red, with rough, flaky and scaly patches that are often itchy? Youre not alone. Almost half of the American population admits to having sensitive or very sensitive skin that often suffers from these symptoms. The good news is that by pinpointing the true cause of your condition, finding the best solution wont be as daunting. See if any of these common skin conditions might be the reason behind the unexplained redness on your skin.
Contact Dermatitis Can Develop Anywhere On Your Skin
While contact dermatitis often develops on the hands, it can appear anywhere on your skin, including feet, lips, or groin area. Sometimes, the cause never directly touches your skin. For example, shoes can cause an allergic reaction on feet covered by socks.
Other times, the skin next to something that causes an allergic reaction may not rash. You may develop the rash elsewhere. For example, some people develop an allergic reaction to chemicals used in nail polish or artificial nails. Instead of developing a rash on their hands or feet, some people get a rash on their eyelids.
The skin around the eye is thin. If youre allergic to something on your fingers, such as an ingredient in a nail polish, briefly touching the skin around the eye could cause a rash.
Contact dermatitis caused by shoes
This man developed a serious allergic reaction to a resin in his shoes.
The rash around this womans eye was caused by an allergic reaction to her artificial nails.
While rare, the rash on a persons skin can also be caused by something inside their body. For example, some people develop an allergic reaction to a metal in an artificial hip or knee. A few patients have developed an allergic reaction to their pacemaker.
Find out if you have an increased risk of developing contact dermatitis by going to, Contact dermatitis: Causes.
ImagesImage 1: Getty Images
Images 2-10: Image used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.
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Other Types Of Eczema
Eczema is the name for a group of skin conditions that cause dry, irritated skin.
Other types of eczema include:
- discoid eczema a type of eczema that occurs in circular or oval patches on the skin
- contact dermatitis a type of eczema that occurs when the body comes into contact with a particular substance
- varicose eczema a type of eczema that most often affects the lower legs and is caused by problems with the flow of blood through the leg veins
- seborrhoeic eczema a type of eczema where red, scaly patches develop on the sides of the nose, eyebrows, ears and scalp
- dyshidrotic eczema a type of eczema that causes tiny blisters to erupt across the palms of the hands
Page last reviewed: 05 December 2019 Next review due: 05 December 2022
Early Detection Of Psoriasis And Eczema Is Key
Depending on a wide variety of factors, treatments can be very similar for both conditions. Seeking proper treatment and taking good care of your skin will help limit symptoms. Hydration is extremely important, especially early on for patients with a family history. Increasing hydration will also help to control the itch, particularly with eczema. Various kinds of topical therapies can be highly successful as well.
“Be sure to establish a relationship with a primary care provider. See them regularly so they can observe skin changes and answer questions. Telehealth has been a huge help in terms of increased access to dermatologists and our ability to help more patients. Patients can send in a picture of a rash and get advice within 24 hours,” says Dr. Hayes. “I recommend patients see a dermatologist yearly to establish a good baseline. There are areas of your skin you cannot easily see, so it’s a good idea to have trained eyes on it with regular full-body skin exams. Include the skin in your regular health care maintenance, just like you would get your blood pressure checked or routine teeth cleaning. Early detection is key.”
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Seattle Children’s Urgent Care Locations
If your childâs illness or injury is life-threatening, call 911.
What Is Usually The First Sign Of Atopic Dermatitis
Among the first signs of atopic dermatitis is a dry, itchy rash on the skin, sometimes with small bumps. On white skin eczema typically looks red, while in skin of color it tends to look darker brown, purple, or ashen gray. The skin may also be dry and cracked, and it may thicken over time as it tries to regenerate itself. Some people with eczema have oozy and blistering, inflamed skin.
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What Is Atopic Dermatitis
It’s not just a kid thing this chronic skin condition, also called eczema, afflicts adults, too, especially people with a family history of allergy.
An itchy, pimply rash that comes and goes. Red, inflamed skin patches that weep when scratched. Dry or leathery skin. All are classic signs of atopic dermatitis, a chronic and recurring skin condition that people commonly call eczema. If you are bothered by one or more of these symptoms, rest assured youre in good company. More than 30 million Americans have some form of this inflammatory skin condition. And, yes, many are adults.
Atopic dermatitis, or AD, the most common type of eczema, was once considered a childhood malady that many kids would eventually outgrow. Its true that most people develop symptoms before the age of 5, and some children experience fewer or less severe symptoms as they enter young adulthood. But the latest evidence suggests its probably a lifelong illness, and there may be more adult-onset cases than researchers previously thought.
They are often surprised and wonder what triggered the disease in their adult life, Silverberg said. Though, I explain to them that adult onset or adult recurrence of AD is not an uncommon scenario.
Eczema Eureka #02: Atopic Dermatitis: The Usual Suspect
Atopic dermatitis . You may hear your doctor use this term interchangeably with eczema, since atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema. Atopic means that there is typically a genetic tendency toward allergic disease, so while AD is a persistent and recurring form of eczema, its not caused by anything you did.
On a typical day, how much time do you spend managing your eczema?
More than 60 minutes
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Talking through your eczema experience with your doctor is a big deal. Not sure how to start the convo? Learn how to have better discussions with your doctor.
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Check Your Child For Other Symptoms
Children whove developed an infection often experience other non-skin related symptoms that you can look for. The biggest telltale sign of an infection is fever. If your child has a rapidly spreading rash and a high fever, its important to seek immediate medical care. Flu-like symptoms such as achiness, fatigue, general malaise and chills also are signs of an infection.
If your child has swollen lymph nodes or is complaining of a sore throat, its also time to contact your pediatrician. In general, even if your child isnt running a fever, a deviation from the normal symptoms of eczema may signal that something else is going on.