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An area of itchy skin is often the initial symptom of eczema. The location and size of this area can vary, although in adults the folds of the joints are usually affected. A red, inflamed and hot rash often appears soon after the itching begins. Other symptoms of eczema include sores, crusts, and thickened skin. Scratching the area can lead to more severe symptoms and even result in an infection.
The symptoms of eczema depend on the type, but most variations of the condition start with an itchy area of skin. Atopic eczema, which is one of the most common variants, usually affects joint folds including the back of the knees and elbows. In children, the face and neck are also commonly affected. Other types, such as allergic eczema, can occur on any part of the body because the condition is a result of contact with a particular substance. Itching can range from almost unnoticeable to intense; it may affect sleep patterns in the worst cases.
One of the most common symptoms of eczema is a rash. This often appears as an area of red skin which may be inflamed. Some patients find that the skin also feels hot to the touch. A rash associated with eczema typically occurs over an extended period of time and will not appear to heal naturally. Along with a rash, the patient may also find that the skin becomes cracked and dry. Flaky skin can also be common and the area may be described as “scaly.” The appearance and severity of the rash tends to depend on the type of eczema that is present.
Scratching may bring temporary relief from the symptoms of eczema. This can make the symptoms worse, however, and lead to skin damage and bleeding. The result can be sores and crusty skin which take a long time to heal. In the worst cases, scratching can result in an infection to the skin.
There are a number of other potential symptoms of eczema. The skin of the affected area, for example, may become thickened. This is often the result of excessive scratching. If the skin becomes infected, small blisters can begin to appear and fluid may weep from sores. When the skin weeps, it leaves behind a lot of protein; this results in the formation of areas of crust. In many cases, an infection will need to be treated with a course of antibiotics