How to Say It: Egg-zeh-ma
Eczema is an inflammation of the skin. It makes parts of the skin red, itchy, and scaly. It may last for a long time or come and go.
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Eczema is caused by the immune system overreacting. It is not known exactly why this happens. It may be due to genes, diet, and things in the environment.
Eczema is more common in children.
Things that may raise the risk are:
Many things can trigger flare ups of eczema. Some common ones are:
Eczema usually begins at 3 to 6 months of age. It may improve by ages 5 to 7 years. For some, it continues into adolescence and early adulthood.
Symptoms can appear anywhere on the body. They may include:
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. The diagnosis is based on symptoms and how the skin looks. The child may need to see an allergy or skin doctor for testing.
There is no cure for eczema. The goals of treatment are to heal the skin and prevent flare-ups.
Options may be:
If skin care and medicines do not help, light therapy may be used on the skin.
Eczema is difficult to prevent. Things that may help lower the risk in children are:
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
National Eczema Association
Canadian Dermatology Association
Caring For Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society
Atopic dermatitis. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/eczema/atopic-dermatitis. Accessed February 11, 2021.
Atopic dermatitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/atopic-dermatitis. Accessed February 11, 2021.
Avena-Woods C. Overview of atopic dermatitis. Am J Manag Care. 2017;23(8 Suppl):S115-S123.
Eczema. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at:
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Accessed February 11, 2021.
Eczema and atopic dermatitis. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/eczema-and-atopic-dermatitis. Accessed February 11, 2021.
What is eczema? National Eczema Association website. Available at: https://nationaleczema.org/eczema. Accessed February 11, 2021.
Last reviewed January 2021 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Chelsea Skucek, MSN, BS, RNC-NIC
Last Updated: 2/11/2021