What is eczema?

What is eczema?
Eczema is a skin condition. The symptoms of eczema include dry, sensitive skin, intense itching; red, inflamed skin; a recurring rash; scaly areas of skin; rough, leathery patches. People with eczema may experience times when their skin flares and when their skin is clear.

Eczema: an uncomfortable itch
Persistent itching and discomfort are symptoms of eczema. Sometimes you have itching so intense that you scratch your skin until it bleeds. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this chronic condition, but Elidel® can significantly relieve the itching and redness of mild or moderate eczema.

How do I know if it’s eczema?
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you may have eczema.

  • Itchy, red rash that keeps coming back
  • Dry, patchy, bumpy, or scaly areas mostly on the folds of the skin
  • A family history of hay fever, asthma, or eczema

Itching is the most common symptom of eczema. In fact, it is why eczema has been called “the itch that rashes”, instead of the rash that itches. Remember, only your doctor can diagnose eczema, so it’s important that you discuss any symptoms you may have.

You’re not alone, it’s a very common problem.

  • Almost 35 million people in the U.S. have eczema.
  • Eczema is on the rise: cases have increased dramatically over the past 50 years.
  • Changes in the environment and lifestyle may contribute to the growing problem.
  • Eczema cases have risen from as few as 1 in 50 children to almost 1 in 9.
  • According to a survey, many people suffering from eczema waited almost 13 weeks to see their doctor to discuss their condition.

What causes eczema?

  • No one really knows.
  • A family history of eczema, hay fever or asthma makes a person more likely to develop eczema.
  • Eczema can flare up or be triggered by allergies, irritants and stress.

Eczema tends to run in families, along with hay fever or asthma, but is not contagious. In fact, if both parents have eczema, there is an 80% chance that their children will, too. This disease can be “triggered” by certain things, such as allergy-causing substances in pet dander, environmental factors like scratchy clothing, or emotions like stress. Although eczema is lifelong, symptoms may mostly disappear as you grow older. Still, you may continue to have dry, sensitive skin.

*Data from a one-hour survey focusing on attitudes toward the treatment of eczema, conducted in May 2001, with adult eczema sufferers and parents of children with eczema.


Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: July 3, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD