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5 Symptoms That Indicate You Have Eczema


Dry skin illustration/copyright Shutterstock

Dry skin and eczema may appear similar, but dryness can often be relieved by moisturizing and exposure to warmer air. Itching from eczema can be excruciating.

It can be difficult to distinguish between dry skin conditions and eczema. Dry skin is often associated with a person's environment, such as dry air or excessive washing.

While eczema has an immune or genetic origin. These two conditions are not uncommon and often people misanalyze their symptoms.

Eczema differs from dry skin in that the diagnosis of eczema implies dysfunction of the skin barrier, often due to an underlying mutation of filaggrin, which is an essential building block of the skin barrier. Skin barrier dysfunction means the skin barrier is leaky, dry, and dehydrated.

Environmental antigens and microbes penetrate the skin and come into contact with the immune system, causing inflammation. This causes patches of skin that are itchy, scaly, and red, which is then known as eczema.

1. The younger you are, the more likely you are to have eczema

Illustration of a woman cleaning her face using a facial cleanser for dry skin and streaks. Credits: by Ron Lach

Eczema affects about 25% of children and 3% of adults, although the prevalence is increasing. Often children develop atopic dermatitis by the time they reach puberty.

In adults, eczema appears differently as hand dermatitis or contact dermatitis, or it may look like seborrheic dermatitis, where the rash develops in the T-zone. This refers to the forehead and nose areas on the face.

2. Shape and area of ​​appearance

For children, eczema tends to appear as dry, red, scaly patches in the folds, such as the neck, wrists, ankles, or behind the knees. For adults, it can also appear on the face, neck, upper arms, back, hands and feet.

Adults also tend to have thicker, scalier plaques. On pale skin, it usually appears as a raised red patch, while on darker skin, it may appear darker brown, purple, or gray.

3. Its relation to physical health

Patients with atopic dermatitis often have asthma, allergic rhinitis, or seasonal allergies, as well as a family history of eczema.

4. Its relation to mental health

It is not uncommon for eczema to recur and be made worse by stress. Patients with eczema have higher rates of anxiety and depression than the general population.

5. Use concealer

People with eczema can also have dark areas around the eyes, which may look like dark circles that have appeared for other reasons.

Short term treatment 

Illustration of a person scratching dry, scaly, and itchy skin. Credits: by Cats Coming

First, don't shower more than once a day and for no more than 10 minutes. Use warm water, not hot water.

Then, use only mild, unscented soaps. After bathing, dry your skin and apply a light, fragrance-free moisturizer, either cream or ointment, to dampen the skin.

When washing clothes, use hypoallergenic detergents and avoid fabric softeners. In general, stay away from wool, perfume, and body sprays, and use a humidifier during the cold, dry months.

Long term care

Instead of buying tons of products online or trying tons of over-the-counter creams, see a medical doctor who specializes in skin. Avoid lotions like those in bottles with pumps, as they have a higher water content, although they absorb quickly, they are not effective at hydrating the skin.

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