Information for Patients
Eczema is a term for several different types of skin swelling. Eczema is also called dermatitis. Most types cause dry, itchy skin and rashes on the face, inside the elbows and behind the knees, and on the hands and feet. Scratching the skin can cause it to turn red, and to swell and itch even more.
Eczema is not contagious. The cause is not known. It is likely caused by both genetic and environmental factors. Eczema may get better or worse over time, but it is often a long-lasting disease. People who have it may also develop hay fever and asthma.
The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis. It is most common in babies and children but adults can have it too. As children who have atopic dermatitis grow older, this problem may get better or go away. But sometimes the skin may stay dry and get irritated easily.
Treatments may include medicines, skin creams, light therapy, and good skin care. You can prevent some types of eczema by avoiding
- Things that irritate your skin, such as certain soaps, fabrics, and lotions
- Things you are allergic to, such as food, pollen, and animals
NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
A rash is an area of irritated or swollen skin. Many rashes are itchy, red, painful, and irritated. Some rashes can also lead to blisters or patches of raw skin. Rashes are a symptom of many different medical problems. Other causes include irritating substances and allergies. Certain genes can make people more likely to get rashes.
Contact dermatitis is a common type of rash. It causes redness, itching, and sometimes small bumps. You get the rash where you have touched an irritant, such as a chemical, or something you are allergic to, like poison ivy.
Some rashes develop right away. Others form over several days. Although most rashes clear up fairly quickly, others are long-lasting and need long-term treatment.
Because rashes can be caused by many different things, it's important to figure out what kind you have before you treat it. If it is a bad rash, if it does not go away, or if you have other symptoms, you should see your health care provider. Treatments may include moisturizers, lotions, baths, cortisone creams that relieve swelling, and antihistamines, which relieve itching.