Eczema: what it looks like, causes, symptoms and treatment

Medically reviewed: 2, February 2024

Read Time:13 Minute


Eczema is an inflammation of the skin that causes the skin to become dry, red and often itchy. You can get eczema if the skin’s outer protective layer is weakened or damaged. For example, it may be due to dry skin, abrasion or contact with substances that irritate the skin or to which you are allergic to. Eczema does not contaminate.

Different types of eczema

The most common types of eczema are as follows:

  • Atopic dermatitis, also called bending tissue exemple.
  • Diarrhea, also called seborrheic eczema.
  • Contact bowel disease, which can either be allergic or non-allergic.
  • Coin-shaped eczema, also called nummular eczema.
  • Leg Eczema.

Eczema is very common in young children, but the inconvenience usually decreases with age. Most people get eczema sometime in life. The most common type is melanoma, but contact dermatitis is also very common. The risk of eczema increases if any close relative has or has had it.


It is common for the skin to first become red, dry and itchy. The red appears better on light skin than on dark skin. It is not certain that the red is visible at all on dark skin.

You may have small blisters and lumps if the eczema is impaired. The blisters and lumps can break and splash and then you will have sores and wounds on the skin.

It can be difficult to get rid of the eczema and it can lead to sores and bleeding. The eczema may become infected. Then the sore fluid may become cloudy and the scabs thicker and yellowish, but it does not always seem so clear.

You may have cracks in your skin that hurt. The skin grows thicker and lasts if you have long-term problems.
Atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis, the skin becomes dry and scales. You get rashes that are red, dry, scaly, scratchy and like scratches.

In many, the eczema begins during the first year of life. The rash usually comes first on the cheeks. Then they can spread to other parts of the body, such as the throat, chest, stomach and diaper area. The eczema may also be on the outside of the arms and legs.

It usually clears a lot, especially at night.

From about two years of age, the eczema usually settles more in the knee folds, the arm folds and around the wrists and the wrists. The eczema is usually called bending tissue exemple.

Mysleem appears as red and scaly skin in places where there are many sebaceous glands. The most common is that the eczema is found in the scalp. Other common places are around and in the ears, in the eyebrows, at the nostrils and at the chest. Occasionally, spleen can occur in skin folds, such as the armpits and groin. Usually it does not get that much, sometimes not at all.

Diarrhea may sometimes be difficult to distinguish from psoriasis.

Contact dermatitis

In contact dermatitis it is common for the skin to blush and rub while forming liquid-filled blisters.

Non-allergic contact dermatitis usually occurs on the hands. It is also known as hand exaggeration or irritation eczema.

Allergic contact dermatitis occurs on the part of the skin that has been in contact with something you are allergic to. The eczema is mostly on the hands. Symptoms in the face and especially around the eyes are common if the subject you are allergic to comes through the air. You can get the subject on your hands and transfer it to your face or other parts of the body.

Coin-shaped eczema

Coin-shaped eczema most often appears on the arms and legs as redding, itchy and scaly spots. The rash is round and about the same as a coin. It is usually people over 50 who get this type of eczema. The eczema is more common in men than in women.

Leg Eczema

Lower leg exudation is common in the spinal cord or leg ulcers. The eczema cleaves and scales easily. Sometimes the skin may turn brown when the eczema is sitting. The legs are often swollen. Lower leg exams are more common in older people.

Things that make the eczema worse

There are several things that can exacerbate the eczema:

  • Sweating can be caused by either wearing hot clothes or engaging in physical activity.
  • Chemicals like detergent and soap.
  • Dusty environments.
  • Water, especially water with chlorine in.
  • Hot and cold winter weather.
  • Reduce indoor humidity when the house is heated.
  • Stress and bad sleep.
  • Diseases, such as colds or an infection in the eczema.

What can I do myself?

  • Lubricate regularly

Lubricate the skin regularly with, for example, a softening cream if you have dry and sensitive skin that easily cleans. This reduces the risk of eczema blowing up.

It is important to lubricate with plasticizers even if the eczema has already flared up.

Lubricating the skin relieves the skin and helps the skin to maintain its natural protection against external impact. Examples of external effects may be that the skin is exposed to water, abrasion or chemicals such as detergents and soaps.

  • Avoid wiping the skin

Avoid excessive washing with water and soap. Many who have dry skin can not swim or shower more than every other day. Use mild soap and avoid overly perfumed products. At the pharmacy there are washing cream and shower oil for dry and sensitive skin. Hair spray and hair gel can cause it to scratch the scalp.

  • Avoid chemicals that irritate the skin

Use opaque detergent and avoid rinse aid. Do not overdo detergent. It’s good to find out if the water is hard or soft where you live to know how to dose. You can ask your municipality or search on the municipality’s website.

It is also good to wash new clothes before using them so that any chemicals disappear.

Avoid the substances that may have triggered the eczema, such as detergents or jewelry containing nickel. You can wear plastic gloves when you wash or do something else where you have a lot of contact with water if you have eczema on your hands. You can wear cotton tights below to keep your hands dry.

Rinse thoroughly and wipe under bracelet and rings after washing your hands. Then soap remains that can irritate the skin.

  • Do not have too hot indoors

It’s good not to have too hot indoors. Humidity often decreases when the air in the houses is heated during the winter. Dry and cold winter weather usually causes more eczema problems.

It may be good to have a cool time in the bedroom and to use a thin blanket.

Taking a cool bath can make it shave less.

  • Avoid hot clothes

Avoid dressing too hot as sweating can cause it to shave. Woolen clothes can irritate and scratch and synthetic clothes can make you sweat more easily. Always wear cotton clothes closest to the body. There are also other materials that can work well, such as silk and bamboo.

  • Gently sunbathe

Eczema often gets better by the sun, but you should think about sunbathing and avoid burning. Skin with eczema is extra sensitive and becomes easily dry and thin.

  • Try not to pinch

It’s hard not to get rid of it, and it will quickly become a habit. But it’s important to try to make it easier to get more itching, make the eczema worse and increase the risk of infection.

Flap gently or massage with skin lotions instead of tearing your nails when it is scratching. Cotton scarves can prevent you from tearing the scab when you sleep. It’s also good to keep your nails short cut.

  • Try prescription free cortisone

Often, cortisone treatment is required, which suppresses inflammation and relieves itching. You can try lubricating the skin with a prescription cream or ointment with cortisone for a week. Cortison should not be used in children under two years without the prescribing of a doctor.

When and where should I apply for care?

Contact a healthcare center if any of the following applies to you:

  • You have not gotten better after one week of treatment with prescription cortisone.
  • You have eczema that spreads or looks different, for example, fluids.
  • Your eczema does not get better by the treatment that usually helps.
  • You have eczema around your eyes.
  • You have eczema on the lower legs.
  • You have a lot of trouble with spleen.

You can contact many recipients by logging in.

Contact a child welfare center if a child under the age of six gets eczema.

Sometimes eczema may flash quickly, often associated with an infection. Then you should seek care directly at a healthcare center or on-call reception.

  • Choose care

As a patient, you have the ability to influence your care according to patient law.

You can seek care at any health center or open specialist reception you want throughout the country. Sometimes a referral is required for the open specialist care.

  • You should understand the information

In order for you to be part of your care and treatment, it is important that you understand the information you receive from healthcare professionals. Ask questions if you do not understand. For example, you will get information about treatment options and how long you may need to wait for care and treatment.

Even children should be involved in their care. The older the child is, the more important it is.

You can get help from an interpreter unless you speak Swedish. You may have the assistance of an interpreter if you have hearing loss.

If you need assistance, you’ll get information about what’s available and how to get it.

  • Treatment

All eczema treatment is aimed at suppressing the inflammation and healing the skin to make it completely and smooth again. Then the skin gets its back against abrasion, dehydration and irritating and allergenic substances.

What treatment you get depends on what kind of eczema you have, how old you are, on the body the eczema is sitting and how big a hassle you have.

Here you can read about drug treatment of eczema.

  • In the lower leg, the cause of the eczema is treated

In the case of lower leg exams, the cause of the eczema is mainly treated. If you have wounds, you will receive treatment for them. Swollen legs are wound with special ties or specially tested support socks. You may need to have a spinal cord operated.

  • Your job can affect

Sometimes eczema may be caused or worse in the work you have. Then you may need vocational counseling and possibly the assistance of a specialist in professional dermatology, to investigate your workplace. Corporate health services can often refer to so-called occupational medicine clinics at the university hospitals in the major cities.

  • Investigations and investigations

The doctor usually investigates the skin and answers questions. Usually, the doctor will be able to diagnose, but sometimes more surveys are needed.

Person with patch test on the back. A patch test on the back.

There are several different methods to test if you have an allergy.

A patch test shows if you are hypersensitive to certain substances that the skin comes into contact with. The test is also called epicutant test.

Children with atopic dermatitis may also have allergies that cause respiratory distress, such as sniffing and asthma. Then the child may need to be investigated for allergies to, for example, different types of food, fur animals or pollen. It is often done with blood tests and so-called pric test, where the allergic reaction in the skin is tested.

Infected eczema

The doctor usually takes a small sample from the eczema using a cotton swab if the eczema appears to have been infected by bacteria. The sample is sent to a laboratory for cultivation.

What happens to the skin?

The skin acts as a body protection and helps keep body temperature at the right level. It consists of three layers of skin; the epidermis, the skin and the subcutaneous skin.

The epidermis is the ultimate skin layer and will prevent dirt, bacteria and viruses from entering the body. The epidermis protects against abrasion by retaining moisture and grease that keeps the skin smooth. The epidermis forms a skin barrier to the environment.

Under the epidermis lies the skin of the skin where there are blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients. Blood circulation in the skin is also important for the body to maintain the correct temperature. In the skin of the skin there are also connective tissues, lymph vessels, sensory bodies, nerves, hair follicles, sebaceous glands and sweat glands.

The subcutaneous skin contains fat cells that act as a protection for the body. The fatty tissue in the under skin helps keep the heat and protect against bumps.

  • Inflammation is the body’s defense

You may have eczema if the skin barrier has dried out, been cracked or nipped out. Then an inflammation occurs in the skin of the skin. Inflammation is the body’s way of defending itself against an injury or an attack of, for example, bacteria.

  • The skin scales

At the top of the epidermis lies the horn layer consisting of dead skin cells. There are always new skin cells formed from below. A skin cell lives for about a month before it dies and bumps away. In eczema, skin cells are renewed faster than they should. Then discarded skin cells accumulate on the skin surface and the skin scales.

What is eczema caused by?

Different causes are responsible for the various types of eczema.

Atopic dermatitis

It is not quite known why some get atopic dermatitis, but legacy and environment play a role.

Some who get atopic dermatitis have a worse skin barrier from the beginning. Then the skin loses moisture and fat and is therefore more prone to abrasion. The skin also reacts more to irritating substances. The skin may also have less of some fats that bind water and prevent the skin from getting dry and scaly.

It is not clear what causes spleen pain. One reason may be that the body responds to a yeast on the skin and the scalp.

Contact dermatitis

Some eczema is because you are allergic to any substance that the skin comes into contact with. Common substances that can cause allergic eczema include nickel, chromium, rubber, latex, rosin and some preservatives in skin care products.

In non-allergic contact eczema, skin protection has been eliminated while the number of inflammatory cells in the skin has increased. It is common to get this type of eczema on your hands, for example, to wash your laundry frequently or use strong cleaning agents.

Coin-shaped eczema

Coin-shaped eczema can occur if you have dry skin and have bathed or showered a lot. It’s usually not associated with allergy.

Leg Eczema

The legs may become swollen and you may have a vomiting and leg ulcers if the blood is difficult to pump from the legs to the heart. The skin will often be hairy and thin and you can easily get eczema.

How is life affected by eczema?

It’s usually a relief to get a diagnosis so you can start treatment and relieve your inconveniences. You will learn to become an expert on your own skin and to treat yourself. It is important that children should be involved in treatment as soon as possible.

  • You may have different inconveniences

Having eczema means you have to lubricate regularly. Do it every day without skipping.

You may find it difficult to sleep if the skin exudes a lot. This can cause you to get tired during the day and find it difficult to concentrate in school or at work.

Some people think it’s embarrassing that others see the example. It may be extra sensitive to children and adolescents, for example at school sports.

You often need to think about avoiding what could trigger the trouble. Having eczema can also affect the choice of occupation you can do.

  • Eczema associated with pregnancy

Eczema can be affected by a pregnancy. In some cases the eczema becomes worse. You can usually use cortisone when you are pregnant if you use it on a limited area of ​​the skin, but you should consult a doctor first.

It is good to make sure that the skin is well-treated before the baby is born. Caring for small children involves a lot of contact with water, which may worsen the eczema.