Eczema: What Is, Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Eczema is an inflammation of the skin that can lead to the appearance of symptoms, such as redness in the skin, itching, peeling and even swelling.

In most cases, eczema is caused when a person comes into contact with a skin irritant, like cleaners or latex, but it can also happen due to certain types of medication, allergies or when there is a change in blood circulation.

Eczema can be managed with the correct treatment indicated by a dermatologist. Treatment usually includes identifying the cause and avoiding it, if possible, and the use of medication.

Eczema: What Is, Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Main Symptoms

Eczema symptoms can vary according to the cause and type of eczema, but the most common symptoms include:

  • Redness in the area;
  • Itchiness;
  • Skin blisters that may burst and leak fluid;
  • Swelling;
  • Peeling.

In a chronic stage, blisters can dry up and crust over, causing a thickening of the skin in that area.  

In babies and children, eczema is more common on the face, arms, and legs, however, in adults symptoms can appear in any part of the body. In the presence of any eczema symptom, it's important to visit a dermatologist, who will be able to do an assessment and thus prescribe adequate treatment. 

Types of Eczema and Causes

Eczema can start due to several factors, however, it is most frequently caused by an allergic reaction, that can happen due to certain types of fabric, fragrances or certain medications.

In addition, it can also happen due to high temperatures, which tend to make the skin drier and more reactive. According to the cause, eczema can be classified into different types. The main ones include:

  1. Contact eczema/dermatitis: happens due to contact with a skin irritant that can be a synthetic fabric, fragrances, latex, soap or even nail polish; 
  2. Stasis eczema: appears when there is a change to blood circulation in a certain area, being more frequent in the legs;
  3. Eczema due to medication: happens when, after taking medication, there is an allergic reaction which results in the appearance of redness in the skin;
  4. Atopic dermatitis: it is normally linked to asthma and hay fever and the symptoms usually appear on the face, the folds of the arms and legs, and there is intense itchiness;
  5. Nummular eczema: itdoesn't have an established cause, but, in some situations, it can be related to excess dryness of the skin, due to cold or dry weather. This type of eczema is characterized by the presence of red, round, and itchy skin patches.

In children, eczema usually appears after 3 months old and can last until adolescence. Treatment must be done under the pediatrician's supervision, and corticosteroids or antihistamines may be prescribed as well as moisturizers. 

Treatment Options

Treatment for eczema must be prescribed by a dermatologist and it usually depends on the type of eczema, it's causes and severity. Corticosteroids or antihistamines may be prescribed in the form of pills, lotions or creams, to help relieve symptoms and stimulate wound healing.

In some cases, the doctor may also indicate antibiotics, if there is any type of infection on the skin or if there is a hight risk of infection.

During treatment, it's very important to keep the skin well hydrated with moisturizing creams, as dry skin can make symptoms worse, delaying treatment results.

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  • SOCIEDADE BRASILEIRA DE DERMATOLOGIA. Eczema. Available on: <,Eczema%20%C3%A9%20um%20tipo%20de%20dermatose%20que%20se%20caracteriza%20por,ser%20agudo%2C%20subagudo%20ou%20cr%C3%B4nico.>. Access in 15 Oct 2020
  • SOCIEDADE BRASILEIRA DE MEDICINA E SAÚDE DA FAMÍLIA E COMUNIDADE. Eczema: resumo de diretriz NHG M37. 2014. Available on: <>. Access in 15 Oct 2020
  • ANTUNES, Adriana A.; SOLÉ, Dirceu; CARVALHO, Vânia O.; BAU, Ana E. K et al. Guia prático de atualização em dermatite atópica - Parte I: etiopatogenia, clínica e diagnóstico. Posicionamento conjunto da Associação Brasileira de Alergia e Imunologia e da Sociedade Brasileira de Pediatria. Arq Asma Alerg Imunol. Vol 1. 2 ed; 131-156, 2017
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