Eczema Symptoms & Diagnosis
Eczema is most recognizable by its dry, cracked appearance. The irritation of the breakout causes the affected area to become inflamed and the rash becomes extremely itchy. Excess scratching can lead to complications, so it is important to refrain from scratching as often as possible.
Usually, the skin will become itchy before the actual rash appears. The itchiness only gets worse as the rash starts to appear in red patches. The itchiness becomes most intense at night and after getting out of hot water, such as a bath or shower. Scratching can cause the skin to break, leading to bleeding and small raised bumps that often become crusted over.
Eczema can appear anywhere on the body, but typically occurs on the hands, feet, in the bend of the elbow, or behind the knees. Scratching will cause the rash to redden and may also cause mild swelling. In some cases, eczema will occur around the eyes or even on the eyelid. It is extremely important not to scratch any eczema rashes around the eye because if the skin breaks, you may get an eye infection.
Eczema never really goes away and can come back even after lying dormant for years. Various triggers can cause an eczema outbreak on your skin, but the triggers vary from person to person.
If you have any of the above symptoms, you may have eczema. The rash itself will not go away by itself, but you can do other things to ease the irritation until the rash is gone. (See our treatment article for more information.) If you’re more comfortable with a doctor’s diagnosis, you can expect the doctor to closely analyze the skin and possibly take a skin sample to ensure positive identification.
Doctors will also look back at your family history to see if skin conditions run in your family, especially eczema. If you or your family has a history of other skin conditions, this could also be an indicator that you may have eczema if the symptoms fit.