Eczema: Atopic Dermatitis Symptoms

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms of eczema include the characteristic skin rash, defined by patches of redness, inflamed skin, skin thickening and discoloration, and sores.

    Symptoms can be relatively mild and treatable with self-care, or unbearable and treatable only with potent prescription medications. The rash of eczema first appears as a red patch. If scratched, it may progress to blisters, more patches, raised plaques, and, in time, thickened, scaly skin.

    If the skin on or around an eruption is broken, the area may appear wet ("weeping"), and a crust may form on the surface.

    If this happens, it is important to be alert for an infection. If there is an area of spreading redness around the rash, if it is painful, or if the person has a fever, see a physician.

    Adults may have inflammation, cracking, dryness, and itching of the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

    Itching and irritation from eczema tends to be worse in the evening.

    As a result, many eczema sufferers may have difficulty sleeping. This pattern may be responsible for the irritability and anxiety seen in children who suffer from the disease.

  • Risk Factors

    AD patients tend to have allergies.

    These might include allergies to:

    • dust mites
    • animal dander
    • weeds
    • mold.

    In some cases, avoiding these substances, particularly dust mites, seems to calm eczema flares.

    Having a history of hay fever or asthma increases your risk for eczema.

    A family history of eczema or other allergic disorders increases your risk for eczema. Approximately 80% of people with eczema have at least one family member who also has eczema. If a child has only one parent with eczema, he or she has a 25% chance of having eczema. If both parents have eczema, the child's risk for having eczema increases to more than 50%.

    Eczema outbreaks can be triggered by environmental factors. Table 01 Tobacco smoke, harsh chemicals such as chlorine or hand soap, irritating clothing, high or low temperatures, and emotional stress can trigger an eczema reaction. Exposure to some foods may also trigger eczema attacks; especially among children.

    Table 1.  Triggers of Existing Eczema

    Tobacco smoke
    Excessive temperatures (hot or cold)
    Harsh chemicals such as solvents, detergents, bleach, and paint
    Skin care products that contain alcohol and some soaps
    Irritating fibers such as wool and synthetics
    Cosmetics and perfumes
    Emotional stress
    Food allergies (especially allergies to soy protein, cow's milk, fish, eggs, and peanuts)
    Other allergies (pollen, pets, dust mites)

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