Eczema – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment


Eczema or dermatitis is a skin disease that can occur in various forms. Typical signs are scaling, oozing, blistering and crusting of the skin. The most common causes are allergic reactions to certain substances and other skin diseases or skin infections. But poor hygiene can also lead to eczema.

What is eczema?

Eczema is a skin reaction that is reminiscent of an inflammation, but is not caused by infection. First, the skin reddens, then forms blisters and weeps.

The resolution of the disease is characterized by severe scaling of the skin and crusting. Although the eczema is not infectious, it is combined with inflammatory reactions of the skin that take a similar course under the more modern collective term dermatitis.


The clinical picture of eczema is divided into three different types. Atopic eczema is also known as neurodermatitis and is usually a hypersensitive reaction of the skin. The causes of its formation have not been fully elucidated. However, it is assumed that the symptoms and symptoms arise when the affected patient has a genetic predisposition for the eczema and subsequently comes into contact with a trigger.

Allergic contact eczema is an allergic reaction of the skin: It is characterized by the fact that the allergy can only be recognized by the formation of eczema on the skin. An intolerance to nickel can cause such symptoms as soon as the patient comes into contact with the substance.

Toxic contact dermatitis, on the other hand, describes the skin’s reaction to a substance that is toxic or harmful to humans. The eczema is formed as a defense reaction of the skin and is part of the normal reaction pattern when it comes into contact with the substance in question.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Although there are different types of eczema with different symptoms, all of them have typical eczema reactions. This is a characteristic sequence of symptoms that go through several stages. Itching is one of the typical leading symptoms of eczema .

Other common signs of eczema are oozing, dandruff , and the formation of crusts on the affected skin. In terms of symptoms, a distinction must be made between acute and chronic eczema. In the case of acute eczema, the skin is reddened first. In addition, the skin swells and itches. The symptoms usually subside after a few days.

In the case of pronounced eczema, blisters filled with liquid appear after the reddening. Shortly thereafter, the blisters burst and crusts form, followed by the appearance of scales. The formation of dandruff is an indication of the healing of the eczema. It is not uncommon for the sequence reddening/swelling – blistering – crusting – scaling to occur several times in a row.

The development of a light reddening of the skin is considered a typical feature of chronic eczema. In the further course, swellings, blisters or papules form. Patients often also suffer from burning and itching . The skin is usually persistently dry and constantly reddened. Because the patient often scratches himself due to the itching, there is a risk of side effects such as inflamed nodules and scratch marks. Skin infections are also common.

When should you go to the doctor?

If the eczema does not go away after two to three days, a doctor should be consulted. Eczema that covers large areas of skin or has become inflamed requires rapid clarification by a doctor. The same applies if the eczema appears on the eye or the skin peels off in blisters. If you suspect neurodermatitis, you should speak to your doctor or a dermatologist directly . It is best for patients suffering from a skin disease to clarify unusual skin changes directly with the responsible doctor.

In particular, complaints that cannot be traced back to any other cause and have a significant impact on well-being must be clarified quickly. The doctor will usually first have a conversation with the patient and then carry out a physical examination. A simple eczema can usually be recognized by visual diagnosis and treated in a targeted manner. However, if the inflammatory skin disease remains untreated, further complications can arise. That’s why you should talk to a doctor at the first sign of eczema.


Eczema can lead to additional complications. These include primarily skin problems that arise due to the constant itching. Because the patient repeatedly scratches the affected areas, this often results in an aggravation of the itching or the inflammatory process, which in turn has a negative effect on the healing progress.

In addition, the tormenting symptoms can lead to sleep disorders at night, which means that restful sleep is not possible. It is not uncommon for the patient’s external appearance to be affected by the skin changes. In extreme cases, working life can no longer be reconciled with the after-effects of eczema.

If sensitization to occupational substances that occur there due to an allergic contact dermatitis is detected at the workplace, there is even a risk of incapacity to work. People who suffer from eczema are also prone to other skin infections, ranging up to impetigo. Herpes simplex viruses or bacteria such as staphylococci are usually responsible for skin infections. By scratching the top layer of skin, the germs can penetrate the skin.

Sometimes those affected also get a fungal infection. Particular caution is required when symptoms such as herpes rash, redness, cold sores and blisters filled with pus occur. If these symptoms appear, a doctor must be consulted quickly. For example, there is a risk of further complications such as swelling of the lymph nodes and high fever in the case of a herpes infection.

Treatment & Therapy

Treatment depends on the condition of the eczema and the health of the skin. In the early stages of eczema, it is advisable to choose an ointment with the highest possible water content. The skin loses water through weeping and the formation of blisters and therefore needs new reserves in order to be able to initiate the healing process. However, if the eczema is in the later stages where it forms a scaly crust, a fatty ointment is used to help the skin regenerate healthy cells.

If the eczema subsequently becomes infected with bacteria, an ointment containing antibiotics and antiseptic substances is also applied. Otherwise, a product that contains glucocorticoids is enough to prevent inflammation of the eczema. Only in severe cases are antibiotics or other healing substances given in tablet form if the eczema should not be touched.

Outlook & Forecast

Eczema has various causes and, in the best-case scenario, once it occurs it can no longer occur. However, if a person is prone to this disease, there is a high probability that it will return in the course of life. Especially if the cause is psychological in origin. If eczema is already treated with an ointment before it has broken out severely, it can quickly go away.

The danger, however, is that you scratch the irritated and itchy skin further and cause bleeding. Then the skin needs a longer time to heal. A thin gauze bandage around the affected skin area can help. Constant rubbing of clothing on the skin can also irritate it even more.

If there is a psychological cause, it must also be treated so that the eczema disappears completely. If the patient comes to rest after a stressful time and reflects on the needs of his body, the eczema will quickly disappear in this case too.

The prospect of curing eczema therefore depends on various factors. However, if the cause of the disease is identified and treated individually, and irritation of the skin is avoided, there is a relatively high chance of curing the disease.


In the future, people with known allergies must stay away from the respective allergen in order to prevent the development of eczema. However, most dangerous substances can be easily avoided – for example, if you have an intolerance to nickel, you have to pay attention to the materials used when buying jewelry and be careful with costume jewelry, because it often contains nickel.

When handling acids or alkalis, which are known to be dangerous, care must be taken to wear the right protective clothing so that no accidents can happen. Eczema is often caused by accidents at work in companies that work with such substances and where employees come into direct contact with them. If, on the other hand, atopic eczema is present, the doctor should clarify what caused it in order to be able to stay away from the source of the risk in the future and to be able to avoid the formation and development of further eczema in the future.


In the case of eczema, there are a number of measures and options for aftercare available to those affected. However, the focus should be on early detection and subsequent treatment, as this is the only way to prevent further complications and symptoms. A self-healing can not occur with eczema, so that the affected person is always dependent on a visit to a doctor.

Early detection is the only way to prevent further complications and symptoms. The treatment itself is usually based on the exact symptoms and is carried out purely symptomatically. If you have any questions or are unclear, you should always consult a doctor first. In general, a healthy lifestyle with a healthy diet has a positive effect on the course of the disease.

Dietary measures can also be ordered by a doctor to alleviate the symptoms. Sporting activities can also have a positive effect on the course of the disease. It is not uncommon for contact with other affected persons to be useful, as this can lead to an exchange of information. The life expectancy of the affected person is not reduced by this disease.

You can do that yourself

Eczema is often accompanied by severe itching and bloody areas of skin caused by scratching. If the symptoms do not subside, the doctor prescribes cortisone , which is very controversial due to its radical effect. Therefore, many sufferers ask themselves what remedies they can use themselves against the unpleasant eczema.

One behavior to avoid is constant unconscious scratching. Since this is difficult, especially when you are asleep, it is advisable to put on a light bandage or wear gloves. In addition, it is better not to wear tight clothing that could rub against the skin. Water often feels comfortable on the sore areas of the body, but excessive washing should be avoided as the water dries out the skin and only increases the itching.

Creams with a high fat content, Vaseline or cooking margarine should be used. Moisturizing creams are less suitable. If the itching becomes unbearable, a washcloth soaked in milk can be placed on the skin.

If those affected continue to suffer from eczema despite special creams or medical treatment, their lifestyle and diet should be reviewed. Those affected are likely to suffer from nutrient deficiencies, eat too much fat, consume excessive alcohol or smoke too much. All of these things can affect the skin, and skin irritation is often a sign of a diseased or strained gut.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.