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 blowing nose
How to tell the difference
smiling baby
Causes and remedies
bowl of soup
Small changes that lead to weight loss
boy looking at broccoli
Simple tips for feeding fussy eaters
cold sore
How to cope with cold sores
boy coughing
Treatments for cold and fever
bain illustration
Best foods for your brain
bucket with cleaning supplies in it
Cleaning for a healthy home
avacado on whole wheat crackers
Plenty to choose from
african american woman wiping sweat from forehead
Tips to stay dry