Eczema is a condition in which patches of skin become inflamed, itchy, cracked, and rough. Some types can also cause blisters.

Different types and stages of eczema affect 31.6 million people in the United States, which equals more than 10% of the population.
Many people use the word eczema when referring to atopic dermatitis, which is the most common type. The term atopic refers to a collection of conditions that involve the immune system, including atopic dermatitis, asthma, and hay fever. The word dermatitis refers to inflammation of the skin.

General eczema symptoms

In most cases eczema symptoms are mild. The most common symptoms of atopic dermatitis include:

  • dry, scaly skin
  • skin flushing
  • itching
  • open, crusted, or weeping sores

People with severe eczema may need more intensive treatment to relieve their symptoms. Continuous rubbing and scratching can also lead to skin infections.

Infant eczema symptoms

The following atopic dermatitis symptoms are common in babies under the age of 2:

  • rashes on the scalp and cheeks
  • rashes that bubble up before leaking fluid
  • rashes that can cause extreme itchiness, which may interfere with sleeping

      Childhood eczema symptoms

      The following atopic dermatitis symptoms are common in children age 2 and above:

      • rashes that appear behind the creases of elbows or knees
      • rashes that appear on the neck, wrists, ankles, and the crease between the buttocks and legs
      • bumpy rashes
      • rashes that can become lighter or darker
      • skin thickening, also known as lichenification, which can then develop into a permanent itch

      Symptoms in adults

      The following atopic dermatitis symptoms are common in adults:

      • rashes that are more scaly than those occurring in children
      • rashes that commonly appear in the creases of the elbows or knees or the nape of the neck
      • rashes that cover much of the body
      • very dry skin on the affected areas
      • rashes that are permanently itchy
      • skin infections