What Is Eczema?

    | Photos of Eczema

What Is This Itchy Rash?

Eczema is also called atopic dermatitis and atopic eczema.

Eczema is a Greek word which means 'to boil over' or 'erupt'. Eczema is a skin condition thought to result from an allergic reaction. The skin erupts into a rash and appears dry, itchy, cracked, scaly or oozy. The condition often begins in childhood and is more common in people with allergies and/or hay fever.

Eczema is not a disease, but rather a reaction. Doctors still don't know much about this condition, even the question whether it is an allergic condition remains unresolved. Recent research shows it runs in families, so it may be down to genes.
See: What causes eczema?

In adults eczema rashes are most likely to appear on the hands, scalp, lips, eyelids or chest. It can also appear around the nipples or genitals.

It starts with itching and often leads to a severe rash. Once the eczema has erupted the skin loses its natural moisture and so the dryness gets worse. At the same time allergens can penetrate the skin more easily causing further inflammation. When the eczema clears there may be an area of skin that is lighter or darker in color than the surrounding skin.
See: Do I have eczema?

Can It Be Cured?

No, although symptoms can be managed with appropriate treatment. See: What is the treatment for eczema?

The good news for children and teenagers, is that if you have eczema as a child, your chances of developing acne during your teens are greatly reduced.

 More Questions

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• Got another question? See: Allergy Questions
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