Eczema is a red often itchy rash that can be irritating. Eczema is caused by both genetic and environmental factors, and treatment depends on the particular type that’s affecting you.

What are the types?

Atopic dermatitis is chronic and often begins in infancy, as a hyperactive immune reaction to some outside allergen or irritant. It flares and wanes throughout your life and may be itchy and red. Usually, it occurs behind your ears, elbows and knees, and on the neck.

Dyshidrotic eczema is twice as common in women than in men, and it causes small, itchy blisters and cracking on the edge of the fingers, toes, palms, and soles. It can be triggered by sweaty hands and feet, stress, metals, enamels, or paints.

Nummular eczema is characterized by coin-sized patches of raised skin or clusters of tiny blisters. These patches may be extremely itchy or break into wet, open sores. The rash may be triggered by dry skin, an insect bite, or another irritant.

Stasis eczema, also called gravitational dermatitis or venous dermatitis, may be a side effect of circulation problems. Symptoms include swelling around the ankles and red, scaly, itching or painful skin. Sometimes large blisters break open and become dangerously infected.

What is the treatment?

Treatment may include using non-scented non-toxic personal care products and avoiding itchy fabrics such as wool. It may also involve a prescription, and diet changes, like staying away from foods that sometimes contain nickel or cobalt (cocoa, shellfish, milk, nuts, or red meat). Topical moisturizers, special shampoos and soaps, steroid creams, and phototherapy lamps — which transmit ultraviolet B light — may also be used. If your eczema is caused by excessive sweating, you may be treated with Botox.

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