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Your Guide to Treating Eczema

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What Eczema Looks Like

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Marijke Vroomen Durning, RN on June 22, 2021
  • young uncomfortable male sitting on couch looking at laptop
    Bringing Eczema Into Focus
    Eczema is a common skin disorder. The type of eczema most doctors see is called atopic dermatitis, but there are other types as well. An estimated 16.5 million American adults have eczema and of these, 40% live with moderate or severe eczema. Most cases of eczema begin in early childhood, although the condition can begin later in life too. There is no cure for eczema, but there are treatments that may help lessen the itching and pain. But what is eczema and what does eczema look like?
  • man-checking-neck-in-mirror
    What does eczema look like?
    Eczema is a skin disorder and the only symptoms are on the skin itself. Atopic dermatitis appears as red, inflamed patches of skin, often on the face, neck or hands, but it can also be found in other areas, like behind your knees and inside your elbows. The skin can also look brownish-gray in color, and feel bumpy or scaly. The skin is often cracked too. If you scratch it, the eczema lesions or patches can become even more red and swollen, and may bleed.
  • baby with eczema (atopic dermatitis) on face around mouth
    What does eczema look like on a baby?
    Eczema on a baby may be called infantile eczema, but it is the same thing. It’s not unusual for a baby to get rashes, like heat rash or diaper rash, but eczema looks different. The skin patches look scratchy and rough, and it appears most often on their cheeks, but also on the inside of their joints, as with adults. It is redder and rougher than cradle cap, a common skin problem among infants.
  • getty images 937448120
    What does eczema look like on the hands?
    If you have eczema on your hands, it may be dyshidrotic eczema. This type of eczema appears as tiny blisters on the edges of your fingers and palms of your hand. They can be intensely itchy. Dyshidrotic eczema tends to appear more during the spring and is usually associated with seasonal allergies, and can last up to three weeks. After the blisters form, they dry out and the skin may crack. You may see some redness around the area and your skin may flake.
  • man with seborrheic dermatitis or eczema in the beard skin
    What does eczema look like on the face?
    Eczema on the face could be atopic dermatitis. The red, flaky rash can appear anywhere on the face particularly where there are folds, like your eyelids or around your mouth. It can also be on the cheeks, common among babies with eczema. Another type of eczema that can affect your face, along the fold of your nose, is seborrheic dermatitis. These patches of red skin, often with white or yellow crusty flakes, may also appear swollen or even greasy.
  • Knee Pain
    What are symptoms of less common types of eczema, such as neurodermatitis?
    Unlike atopic dermatitis, neurodermatitis begins with an itch, most often on the arms, legs, or the back of the neck, although it can also occur in the genital area or around the anus. It’s usually just in one or two places, and the itching can be very intense, worsening during times of stress. The patches can look red and rough. If you scratch a lot, the skin can start to look tough and thick, taking on a brownish color. If the patches occur where you normally have hair, frequent rubbing or scratching may cause hair loss.
  • dermatologist applying cream to atopic dermatitis (eczema) on patient's forearm
    What is nummular dermatitis, or discoid eczema?
    While many people develop eczema in childhood, nummular dermatitis most often appears after an injury to the skin at any time in your life. The injury could be a bug bite, a cut or scrape, or a burn. The red, scaly patches are usually coin shaped. The patches are quite itchy and uncomfortable. The most common spots for nummular dermatitis are the lower legs, hands and forearms.
  • varicose veins on senior woman's leg
    What is stasis dermatitis, eczema caused by poor blood circulation?
    Older people with poor blood circulation, particularly to the lower legs, may develop stasis dermatitis, which is also called gravitational dermatitis, venous eczema, or venous stasis dermatitis. Patches of itchy and dry skin may look irritated, red and swollen. People with this type of eczema could develop sores or ulcers, which can break open and scab over.
What Eczema Looks Like | Eczema on Baby, on the Face & on the Hands

About The Author

Marijke Vroomen Durning, RN, has been writing health information for the past 20 years. She has extensive experience writing about health issues like sepsis, cancer, mental health issues, and women’s health. She is also author of the book Just the Right Dose: Your Smart Guide to Prescription Medications and How to Take Them Safely.
  1. Atopic dermatitis (eczema). Mayo Clinic.
  2. What is Eczema? National Eczema Society.
  3. Eczema. KidsHealth; from Nemours.
  4. Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) Overview. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
  5. Atopic Dermatitis in America. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
  6. Dyshidrotic Eczema. National Eczema Association. 
  7. Neurodermatitis: Overview. American Academy of Dermatology Association.

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Last Review Date: 2021 Jun 22
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.