A common allergic reaction often affecting the face, elbows and knees is atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema. This red, scaly, itchy rash is usually seen in young infants, but can occur later in life in individuals with personal or family histories of atopy, meaning asthma or allergic rhinitis (“hay fever”). Eczema may at times ooze, or at times may look very dry. A physician will rarely have difficulty diagnosing atopic dermatitis, based on three factors: an 1) itchy, 2) “eczematous” or bubbly rash in an 3) atopic individual. If one of these three features is missing, your physician should consider other causes.
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a common allergic reaction often affecting the face, elbows and knees. This red, scaly, itchy rash is usually seen in young infants, but can occur later in life in individuals with personal or family histories of other allergic conditions – such as asthma or hay fever.
In infants, eczema usually appears as tiny bumps on the cheeks. Older children and adults often experience rashes on the knees or elbows (often in the folds of the joints), on the backs of hands or on the scalp.
Itching is the hallmark symptom and can sometimes be very intense. Eczema can appear very dry, with flaking skin, or can have lesions that ooze – often a sign of a bacterial infection caused by scratching.
Identifying the cause of the itch is essential in relieving the dermatitis. Common triggers include allergens, overheating or sweating, emotional stress, eating certain foods and contact with irritants such as wool, pets, soaps or other agents.