Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots
Eczema health centre

Eczema symptoms

Atopic eczema, also known as  atopic dermatitis, but usually just called  eczema, is a long-term condition causing itchy, red, dry and cracked patches of skin.

eczema on skin close up

Eczema is a chronic (long-term) problem for many people. It is most common among infants, many of whom, however, outgrow it before school age.

What are the symptoms of eczema?

Almost always, there's an itch before a rash appears in eczema. Typically, eczema shows itself as:

  • Patches of itchy, dry, thickened skin, usually on the hands, arms, neck, face and legs. In children, the inner creases of the knees and elbows are often involved.
  • Sores with crusts, caused by scratching.

Seek medical advice if:

  • You develop an otherwise unexplained rash and have a family history of eczema or asthma. You should have a medical diagnosis of the condition.
  • The inflammation does not respond to treatment with emollient lotions and creams. A doctor may suggest prescription medicines.
  • You develop yellowish to light brown crusts or pus-filled blisters over existing patches of eczema. This may indicate a bacterial infection that should be treated with an antibiotic.
  • During a flare-up of eczema, you are exposed to anyone with a viral skin disease such as cold sores or genital herpes. Having eczema puts you at increased risk of contracting the viral disorder.
  • You develop numerous small, fluid-filled blisters in the areas of eczema. You may have eczema herpeticum, a rare but potentially serious complication caused by the herpes simplex virus.

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on October 28, 2016

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

woman_holding_head_in_pain
How to help headache pain
man in mirror
How smoking affects your looks & life
boost your metabolism
Foods to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol
man holding sore neck
Could you have a hormone imbalance?
woman looking at pregnancy test
Is your body ready for pregnancy?
woman holding mouth
Common mouth problems
couple makigh salad
Nutrition for over 50s
bucket with cleaning supplies in it
Cleaning and organising tips
adult man contemplating
When illness makes it hard to eat
Allergies
Allergy myths and facts
egg in cup
Surprising things that can harm your liver