Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis symptoms & Management

Eczema is characterized by patches of discoloured, itchy, dry skin, but symptoms may be different for each person. People with eczema often cycle through long periods of symptom-free remission, followed by flare-ups that can be severe.

  • Rough, leathery patches of skin from chronic scratching and rubbing
  • Small, raised bumps (hives) that may appear after exposure to an allergen, during flare-ups, or after exercising or taking a hot bath or shower
  • Increased skin creases on the palms of the hands
  • Discoloration in the skin around the eye, or an extra fold of skin that develops under the eye
  • Patchy loss of eyebrows or eyelashes from scratching or rubbing
  • Small, rough bumps on the face, upper arms, and thighs
  • Scaly skin patches that may be rectangular 
  • Blisters or papules (small, raised bumps) that ooze or crust over when scratched
  • Swollen, sore skin
  • Skin colour changes
  • Ear discharge or bleeding if eczema occurs in the ear canal

Eczema triggers

There are a number of things that may trigger your eczema symptoms. These can vary from person to person.

Irritants – such as soaps and detergents, including shampoo, washing-up liquid and bubble bath, environmental factors or Allergens – such as cold and dry weather, dampness, and more specific things such as house dust mites, animals, pollen and moulds, Food allergies– such as allergies to cows’ milk, eggs, peanuts, soya or wheat, certain materials worn next to the skin – such as wool and synthetic fabrics, hormonal changes – women may find their symptoms get worse in the days before their period, skin infections.


Treatments for atopic eczema can help to ease the symptoms. There’s no cure, but many children find their symptoms naturally improve as they get older.

The main treatments for atopic eczema are:

  • Emollients (moisturisers) – used every day to stop the skin becoming dry
  • Topical Corticosteroids– creams and ointments used to reduce swelling and redness during flare-ups

Other treatments include:

  • topical pimecrolimus or tacrolimus for eczema in sensitive sites not responding to simpler treatment
  • Antihistamine for severe itching
  • bandages or special body suits to allow the body to heal underneath
  • more powerful treatments offered by a dermatologist (skin specialist)

  • Self care: Try to reduce the damage from scratching, Avoid triggers, Dietary changes, Emollients, You may also be advised to use a mix of emollients, such as: an ointment for very dry skin, a cream or lotion for red and inflamed skin, an emollient to use instead of soap, an emollient to use on your face and hands, and a different one to use on your body.

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