What Does Untreated Eczema Turn Into?

Have you ever wondered what happens if eczema is left untreated? Eczema, a common skin condition characterized by red, itchy, and inflamed patches, can transform into a more severe and chronic condition if not properly treated. Without proper care and management, untreated eczema can develop into a vicious cycle of flare-ups, infections, and even long-term skin damage. Understanding the potential consequences of neglecting eczema is essential in order to take appropriate measures and seek timely medical intervention for effective management.

Bacterial Infections


Impetigo is a common bacterial infection that primarily affects the skin, particularly in children. It is highly contagious and can spread easily through close contact, such as sharing towels or touching infected areas. Typically, impetigo appears as red sores that break open, ooze, and form a yellowish-brown crust. It primarily occurs around the mouth and nose but can also occur on other parts of the body.

If left untreated, impetigo can lead to complications such as cellulitis or a deeper skin infection. It is important to seek medical attention if you suspect impetigo, as antibiotics are often necessary to eliminate the bacteria and prevent the infection from worsening.


Cellulitis is a bacterial infection that affects the deeper layers of the skin and the underlying tissues. It is characterized by redness, swelling, warmth, and pain in the affected area. Cellulitis can occur anywhere on the body and may spread rapidly. It needs prompt medical treatment to prevent the infection from spreading further and causing more serious complications.

If left untreated, cellulitis can lead to the spread of infection to the bloodstream or lymphatic system, resulting in sepsis, abscess formation, or even a life-threatening condition. It is essential to seek immediate medical attention if you suspect cellulitis to receive appropriate antibiotics and prevent further complications.

Fungal Infections


Candidiasis, also known as yeast infection, is a fungal infection caused by an overgrowth of the Candida fungus. It can affect various parts of the body, including the skin, mouth, throat, genitals, and blood. When it affects the skin, it usually develops in warm and moist areas, such as the armpits, groin, or under the breasts.

If left untreated, candidiasis can lead to persistent or recurrent infections and may also spread to other areas of the body. In severe cases, it can cause invasive candidiasis, which affects the bloodstream, leading to systemic infections that can be life-threatening, especially in individuals with weakened immune systems.

Tinea Infections

Tinea infections, also known as ringworm, are common fungal infections that affect the skin, hair, and nails. They are caused by various types of fungi, including dermatophytes, which thrive in warm and humid environments. Tinea infections can appear as red, scaly patches with raised edges and may cause itching or discomfort.

If left untreated, tinea infections can persist and spread to other areas of the body or to other individuals through direct contact. In severe cases, they can lead to complications such as cellulitis or fungal nail infections. Timely treatment with antifungal medications is crucial to effectively eliminate the infection and prevent further complications.

Viral Infections

Herpes Simplex

Herpes simplex is a viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It is categorized into two types: HSV-1, which primarily causes oral herpes (cold sores), and HSV-2, which primarily causes genital herpes. The infection is highly contagious and spreads through direct contact with an infected individual or contact with their saliva, lesions, or genital secretions.

If left untreated, herpes simplex can result in recurrent outbreaks of painful sores or blisters in the affected area. It can also lead to complications such as encephalitis, a rare but serious inflammation of the brain, or neonatal herpes in newborns if the infection is transmitted during childbirth. While there is no cure for herpes simplex, antiviral medications can help manage symptoms, reduce the frequency and duration of outbreaks, and lower the risk of transmission.

Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin infection caused by the molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV). It is characterized by small, raised, and painless bumps on the skin that can appear anywhere on the body. Molluscum contagiosum spreads through direct contact with infected individuals or contaminated objects.

If left untreated, molluscum contagiosum can persist for months or even years, with the potential to spread to other areas of the body or to other individuals through skin-to-skin contact or sharing of towels or clothing. In some cases, the bumps may become inflamed, leading to secondary bacterial infections. Treatment options include medications, cryotherapy (freezing), or other procedures to remove the bumps and prevent further spread.

Skin Discoloration and Pigmentation Issues


Hyperpigmentation refers to the darkening of certain areas of the skin caused by an excess production of melanin, the pigment responsible for skin color. It can occur due to various factors, including sun exposure, hormonal changes, inflammation, or skin injuries. Hyperpigmentation can manifest as patches or spots that are darker than the surrounding skin.

If left untreated, hyperpigmentation can persist and become more noticeable over time. It can affect one’s self-esteem and confidence, leading to psychological distress. Timely intervention with topical creams, chemical peels, laser treatments, or other interventions can help lighten and even out the skin tone, reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation.


Hypopigmentation refers to the loss or reduction of melanin production in certain areas of the skin, resulting in lighter patches or spots compared to the surrounding skin. It can be caused by various factors, including certain skin conditions, autoimmune disorders, genetic conditions, or injuries to the skin.

If left untreated, hypopigmentation can persist and become more noticeable over time. It can affect one’s appearance and may lead to self-consciousness or emotional distress. Treatment options for hypopigmentation include topical creams, phototherapy, microneedling, or surgical interventions, depending on the underlying cause and severity of the condition.

Thickened or Lichenified Skin

Lichen Simplex Chronicus

Lichen simplex chronicus (LSC) is a skin condition characterized by thickened, rough, and leathery skin due to chronic scratching or rubbing. It often occurs in response to itching or irritation caused by underlying skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, or insect bites. LSC commonly affects areas that are easily accessible for scratching, such as the neck, wrists, ankles, or genitals.

If left untreated, LSC can lead to further thickening of the skin, increased discomfort, and a perpetuating itch-scratch cycle. It can also cause secondary bacterial infections if the skin is broken due to scratching. Treatment focuses on addressing the underlying cause, managing the itch, and promoting healthy skin healing. This may involve the use of topical corticosteroids, moisturizers, antihistamines, or behavioral modifications to prevent scratching.

Prurigo Nodules

Prurigo nodules, also known as nodular prurigo, are skin lesions that develop in response to chronic itching and scratching. They typically appear as firm, raised bumps or nodules on the skin and may be accompanied by intense itching. Prurigo nodules can occur in individuals with underlying skin conditions, such as eczema or atopic dermatitis, or in those with a history of insect bites or dermatitis.

If left untreated, prurigo nodules can continue to cause itching and discomfort, leading to further scratching and potential complications such as infection or scarring. Treatment involves managing the underlying cause and addressing the itch-scratch cycle. This may include the use of topical corticosteroids, antihistamines, moisturizers, or other medications to relieve itching and reduce inflammation.

Increased Susceptibility to Allergies

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a chronic skin condition characterized by dry, itchy, and inflamed skin. It often starts in infancy or early childhood and can persist into adulthood. Individuals with atopic dermatitis have a compromised skin barrier, making them more susceptible to irritants, allergens, and microbial infections.

If left untreated, atopic dermatitis can lead to persistent or recurrent flare-ups, causing significant discomfort and impacting one’s quality of life. It can also make the skin more prone to other types of infections, such as bacterial or viral infections. Treatment aims to manage symptoms, hydrate the skin, prevent flare-ups, and reduce the risk of secondary infections. This may involve the use of moisturizers, topical corticosteroids, antihistamines, or other medications as prescribed by a healthcare professional.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis is a skin reaction that occurs when the skin comes into contact with a substance to which the individual is allergic. The immune system reacts to the allergen, causing redness, itching, swelling, or blisters at the site of contact. Common allergens include certain metals (e.g., nickel), fragrances, preservatives, latex, or specific plants.

If left untreated, allergic contact dermatitis can lead to persistent or recurrent outbreaks of skin rashes and discomfort. It can also cause complications such as secondary infections if the skin is broken due to scratching or if the allergen itself carries infectious properties. Treatment involves avoiding the allergen, using topical corticosteroids or other medications to reduce inflammation and itching, and implementing preventive measures to minimize exposure to known allergens.

Itch-Scratch Cycle and Psychological Impacts

Sleep Disturbances

The itch-scratch cycle, commonly associated with various skin conditions, can have a profound impact on sleep quality. Intense itching can disrupt sleep and lead to difficulty falling asleep or frequent awakenings throughout the night. Chronic sleep disturbances can contribute to fatigue, mood swings, decreased concentration, and overall diminished quality of life.

If left untreated, sleep disturbances caused by the itch-scratch cycle can have long-term consequences on physical and mental well-being. Identifying and managing the underlying skin condition, addressing the itch, and implementing sleep hygiene practices can help alleviate sleep disturbances and improve overall sleep quality.

Psychological Distress

Living with chronic skin conditions can have significant psychological impact. The visible symptoms, discomfort, and uncertainty associated with these conditions can lead to feelings of self-consciousness, embarrassment, frustration, or even depression and anxiety. Coping with itching, scratching, and the impact on daily activities can also be challenging, affecting one’s self-esteem and quality of life.

If left untreated, psychological distress related to skin conditions can worsen and impact various aspects of life, including social interactions, relationships, work productivity, and overall emotional well-being. Seeking comprehensive care that addresses both the physical and emotional aspects of the condition is crucial. This may involve dermatological treatments, counseling, support groups, or other interventions to help individuals manage the emotional impact and improve their overall well-being.

Exfoliative Dermatitis

Exfoliative dermatitis, also known as erythroderma, is a severe skin condition characterized by widespread flaking and scaling of the skin. It can be caused by various factors, including underlying skin conditions, allergic reactions, medication side effects, or systemic diseases. Exfoliative dermatitis often presents with redness, inflammation, discomfort, and increased sensitivity of the skin.

If left untreated, exfoliative dermatitis can lead to severe skin damage, fluid loss, and electrolyte imbalances. The compromised skin barrier makes individuals more susceptible to infections, including bacterial and fungal infections. Immediate medical attention is necessary to identify and address the underlying cause, manage symptoms, and prevent potential complications. Treatment may involve hospitalization, supportive care, topical or systemic medications, and close monitoring of fluid and electrolyte balance.

Eczema Herpeticum

Eczema herpeticum is a rare but potentially serious complication of atopic dermatitis. It occurs when the herpes simplex virus infects the already compromised skin of individuals with atopic dermatitis. Eczema herpeticum typically presents with widespread blisters, skin erosions, fever, and systemic symptoms such as headache or fatigue.

If left untreated, eczema herpeticum can lead to complications such as widespread viral infections, secondary bacterial infections, or even disseminated herpes infection affecting various organs. Prompt medical attention is essential to diagnose the condition accurately and initiate appropriate antiviral treatment. Hospitalization may be required in severe cases for close monitoring and supportive care.

Eye Complications

Eyelid Dermatitis

Eyelid dermatitis refers to the inflammation of the eyelid skin, often resulting from allergic or irritant reactions. It can cause redness, swelling, itching, or flaking of the eyelids. Eyelid dermatitis can be triggered by various substances, including cosmetics, fragrances, medications, or allergens such as pollen or dust mites.

If left untreated, eyelid dermatitis can persist or worsen, leading to chronic discomfort, visual disturbances, or complications such as secondary bacterial or fungal infections. Timely identification and avoidance of triggers, along with appropriate treatment options such as topical corticosteroids or other medications, can help manage symptoms and prevent further complications.


Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin and transparent membrane that covers the white part of the eye and lines the inner surface of the eyelids. It can be caused by bacterial or viral infections, allergies, or irritants. Conjunctivitis is characterized by redness, itching, tearing, discharge, and sometimes sensitivity to light.

If left untreated, conjunctivitis can persist or spread to other individuals through direct contact or contaminated objects. In certain cases, it can cause more severe complications such as corneal ulcers or vision problems. Treatment options for conjunctivitis depend on the underlying cause and may include antibiotic or antiviral eye drops, cold compresses, or artificial tears to alleviate symptoms and prevent further spread of the infection.

In conclusion, untreated skin conditions can lead to a range of complications and impacts on overall health and well-being. Seeking timely medical attention, implementing appropriate treatments, and taking steps to manage symptoms and prevent further complications are essential in maintaining healthy skin and addressing any underlying issues. Remember, it is always best to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.