- Patchy areas of red to brownish-gray discoloration of the skin
- Itching, which can be severe and interrupt sleep
- Small, raised bumps, which may leak fluid and crust over when scratched
- Thickened, cracked or scaly skin
- Raw, sensitive skin
Patches of eczema can occur anywhere, but are most often on the hands and feet, ankles and behind the knees, the front at the bend of the elbow, wrists, face, neck and upper chest. It can affect the skin around the eye and the eyelids. Scratching around the eyes can cause redness and swelling.
Complications of eczema include:
Neurodermatitis. Prolonged scratching causes more itching which causes more and more intense scratching, which causes more and more intense itching. It can lead to neurodermatitis, also called lichen simplex chronicus. The areas become thick and leathery. They can be raw, red, brown, or just darker than the surrounding skin. The areas can be permanently scarred and/or discolored.
Skin infections. Scratching can break the skin, causing open sores and fissures that can become infected with bacteria usually present on the skin.
Eye complications. As described above, including inflammation of the eyelid, called blepharitis, and the lining of the eyelid, cause conjunctivitis. See your doctor if this occurs.
Avoiding dry skin can help to prevent recurrent episodes of more severe dermatitis. Bathing can be very drying. These tips can be helpful:
Bathe less frequently. Try going a day or two without a shower or bath. Use warm or tepid, not hot, water. A bath oil may help. Limit it to 10 to 15 minutes.
Use mild soaps which dont excessively remove natural oils. Antibacterial and deodorant soaps are especially drying. Try using soap only on the face, genitals, underarms, hands and feet. Use clear water on other areas.
Dry your skin carefully and thoroughly, patting gently.
Moisturize your skin. Moisturizers can create a barrier over your skin, helping to retain moisture. Thick moisturizers work well, such as Eucerin, Cetaphil, and Vanicream. Cosmetics containing moisturizers may be helpful. Avoid potentially harmful chemicals. An oil, such as baby oil, applied after bathing helps retain moisture and lasts longer on the skin than water-based products. Look into using an all-natural body moisturizer with pure botanical oils.
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