What Happens If You Leave Eczema Untreated?

Did you know that untreated eczema can lead to a host of uncomfortable and potentially serious consequences? From unbearable itching and redness to painful skin infections, leaving eczema untreated can have a significant impact on your quality of life. In this article, we’ll explore the potential complications that can arise when you don’t seek proper treatment for eczema, and why it’s crucial to address this common skin condition promptly. So, let’s dive into the world of eczema and discover what can happen if you choose to leave it untreated.

Increased Symptoms

Persistent Itchiness

One of the primary symptoms of eczema is persistent itchiness. If left untreated, the itchiness can become more intense and frequent, making it difficult for you to focus on daily activities. The incessant itching can also disrupt your sleep, leading to exhaustion and further exacerbating other symptoms.

Redness and Swelling

Untreated eczema can result in increased redness and swelling of the affected skin areas. The inflammation can spread and intensify, making you feel self-conscious about your appearance. The red and swollen patches may become more prominent, making it challenging to hide the condition.

Dry and Scaly Skin

As eczema progresses, the skin becomes increasingly dry and scaly. Leaving eczema untreated means that the damaged skin’s moisture-retaining ability may worsen, leading to further dryness and flaking. The skin may lose its natural elasticity and feel rough to the touch.


Without proper intervention, eczema flare-ups can become more frequent and severe. These flare-ups occur when the symptoms intensify suddenly, causing increased itchiness, redness, swelling, and discomfort. The unpredictable nature of flare-ups can disrupt your daily life and make it challenging to plan activities or commitments.

Infection Risk

When eczema is left untreated, the risk of developing infections in the affected areas increases. Continuous scratching due to persistent itchiness can break the skin, allowing bacteria, viruses, or fungi to enter the body. These infections can further aggravate eczema symptoms and may require additional medical intervention to treat effectively.

Worsening of Skin Condition

Thickening and Hardening of Skin

Neglecting treatment for eczema can lead to the thickening and hardening of the affected skin. As the condition progresses, the skin cells may grow at a faster rate, causing the skin to become thick and rough. This can make it difficult to manage the symptoms and maintain healthy skin.

Skin Discoloration

The untreated eczema can result in skin discoloration, mainly due to chronic inflammation and the body’s natural response to the condition. The affected skin may appear darker or lighter than the surrounding healthy skin, affecting your self-confidence and body image.

Cracked and Bleeding Skin

Without proper care, eczema-affected skin can become extremely dry and cracked. As you may experience persistent itchiness, scratching the affected areas can worsen the condition, leading to cracks in the skin surface. These cracks can be painful and may even bleed, making day-to-day activities uncomfortable and challenging.

Skin Inflammation

Eczema causes inflammation in the skin, resulting in red, swollen, and tender areas. Left untreated, the inflammation can spread to larger areas of the body and become more intense. The constant inflammation can cause discomfort, pain, and limit your ability to move easily.

Psychological Impact

Excessive Stress and Anxiety

Living with untreated eczema can take a toll on your mental health. Constant itchiness, discomfort, and visible symptoms may cause excessive stress and anxiety. The constant worry about the appearance of your skin, the fear of judgment, and the frustration of not finding relief can all contribute to your overall emotional well-being.

Low Self-esteem

The appearance of eczema can significantly impact your self-esteem. Persistent redness, swelling, and visible skin damage can make you feel self-conscious and less confident. It may affect your social interactions, relationships, and overall quality of life. Addressing the underlying causes of eczema is crucial to improving your self-esteem.

Social Isolation

The noticeable symptoms of untreated eczema can lead to social isolation. People may have misunderstandings about the condition and may fear it is contagious. Consequently, you may find yourself avoiding social events and gatherings, which can negatively impact your mental well-being and overall happiness.


Living with untreated eczema can contribute to the development or exacerbation of depressive symptoms. Constant discomfort, self-consciousness, and frustration can lead to feelings of hopelessness and sadness. Seeking both physical and emotional support is essential in managing and treating eczema to prevent or address any depression symptoms.

Impact on Daily Life

Disturbed Sleep

Eczema symptoms, particularly persistent itchiness, can significantly disturb your sleep. The constant urge to scratch can keep you awake, leading to fragmented sleep patterns and insomnia. The lack of quality sleep can leave you feeling tired, irritable, and affect your ability to concentrate during the day.

Decreased Productivity

The physical discomfort and psychological impact of untreated eczema can contribute to decreased productivity in your daily life. Pain, itchiness, and overall discomfort can make it challenging to focus on work, school, or other tasks, reducing your efficiency and output.

Difficulty Concentrating

Unaddressed eczema symptoms can make it difficult for you to concentrate and stay focused. The persistent itchiness and discomfort can be distracting, leading to decreased attention span and reduced cognitive abilities. It may affect your performance in academic or professional settings and impact your overall success.

Limited Physical Activities

The symptoms of eczema, especially severe flare-ups and discomfort, can limit your ability to engage in physical activities. Exercise, sports, or even simple movements that involve bending or stretching may become difficult and painful. The restriction of physical activities can impact your overall fitness, health, and well-being.


Eczema Herpeticum

Without proper treatment, eczema can put you at risk of developing a severe and potentially life-threatening infection called eczema herpeticum. This viral infection occurs when the herpes simplex virus (HSV) enters the broken skin through scratching. Eczema herpeticum requires immediate medical attention and can lead to systemic symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Leaving eczema untreated can increase the likelihood of developing allergic contact dermatitis. The compromised skin barrier in eczema-prone individuals can result in heightened sensitivity to various substances, such as fragrances, detergents, or metals. Exposure to these allergens can trigger an allergic reaction, leading to further skin inflammation and discomfort.


There is a strong association between eczema and asthma, known as the atopic march. If left untreated, eczema may progress to asthma, a chronic respiratory condition characterized by inflammation and constriction of the airways. Untreated eczema may increase the risk of asthma development, especially in children.

Eye Problems

Eczema can affect the delicate skin around the eyes, leaving it vulnerable to complications. Untreated eczema in this area can lead to eye problems such as conjunctivitis (pink eye) or eyelid dermatitis. These conditions can cause redness, itchiness, and discomfort in the eye area, further impacting your daily life and visual health.

Secondary Infections

Bacterial Infection

Without proper treatment, eczema-affected skin can become prone to bacterial infections. Scratching and an impaired skin barrier allow bacteria to enter and multiply, leading to complications such as cellulitis or impetigo. Bacterial infections can cause increased redness, pain, and require medical intervention, potentially with antibiotics.

Viral Infection

As mentioned earlier, untreated eczema can lead to a viral infection called eczema herpeticum. This infection is caused by the herpes simplex virus and can quickly spread throughout the body. It can cause fever, fatigue, and systemic symptoms, requiring immediate medical attention and antiviral medications.

Fungal Infection

The compromised skin barrier and constant moisture imbalance associated with eczema can increase the risk of developing fungal infections. Fungal overgrowth can result in conditions like candidiasis or ringworm, characterized by itchy, red, and scaly patches on the affected skin. Antifungal treatment is often required to address these infections effectively.

Scarring and Skin Damage

Permanent Scarring

Untreated eczema can lead to the formation of permanent scars on the affected skin areas. Continuous scratching and inflammation can cause damage to the skin cells, leaving visible marks and indentations. These scars can affect your self-confidence and may require additional treatments to improve their appearance.


Chronic inflammation in untreated eczema can trigger an overproduction of pigment cells, resulting in hyperpigmentation. The affected areas may appear darker than the surrounding skin, creating uneven skin tone and discoloration. Addressing eczema promptly can help prevent or minimize the risk of hyperpigmentation.

Thinning of Skin

The persistent inflammation and damage caused by untreated eczema can lead to thinning of the skin. This thinning occurs due to a decreased production of collagen, a vital protein responsible for skin strength and elasticity. Thin skin is more delicate and prone to tears, making it even more vulnerable to infections and damage.

Impact on Children

Growth and Development Issues

Untreated eczema in children can have long-term effects on their growth and development. Continuous discomfort and itchiness may affect their appetite, leading to poor nutrition and inadequate weight gain. Additionally, the psychological impact of eczema can hinder their social and emotional development.

Behavioral Problems

Children with untreated eczema may exhibit behavioral problems due to the discomfort and frustration they experience. The constant itchiness and inability to find relief can lead to irritability, tantrums, and difficulty concentrating. Proper management and treatment of eczema can help alleviate these behavioral challenges.

Learning Difficulties

The impact of untreated eczema on a child’s well-being can extend to their academic performance. The itchiness, sleep disturbances, and psychological distress can impair their concentration and overall ability to focus in school. Addressing eczema early and managing it effectively can support optimal learning and development.

Financial Burden

Medical Expenses

Leaving eczema untreated can result in increased medical expenses over time. Regular doctor visits, potential laboratory tests, and specialized treatments can be costly. Seeking appropriate medical attention early on and following a treatment plan can help mitigate these expenses and long-term financial burden.

Prescription Medications

Untreated eczema may require the use of prescription medications to manage symptoms effectively. These medications, such as corticosteroids or immunomodulators, can be costly without insurance coverage. Adhering to a treatment plan and seeking medical advice promptly can ensure appropriate medication use and possibly reduce costs.

Missed Work or School

The impact of eczema on daily life can lead to missed workdays or school absences. Severe flare-ups, discomfort, and emotional distress may prevent you from performing your usual responsibilities effectively. The resulting loss of income or missed educational opportunities can further strain your financial situation.

Preventive Measures

Proper Skincare Routine

To prevent and manage eczema symptoms, establishing a proper skincare routine is essential. Regularly moisturize the affected areas using gentle, hypoallergenic creams or ointments to maintain the skin’s moisture balance. Avoid harsh soaps or detergents that may further dry out the skin and trigger flare-ups.

Avoiding Triggers

Identifying and avoiding triggers that worsen eczema symptoms is crucial. Common triggers include certain fabrics, harsh chemicals, allergens, stress, or weather changes. By eliminating or minimizing exposure to these triggers, you can reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups.

Regular Medical Check-ups

Regular medical check-ups with a dermatologist or healthcare provider are important in managing eczema effectively. They can assess your condition, provide guidance on treatment options, and adjust your management plan as needed. Regular monitoring can help prevent potential complications and ensure proper disease management.

Follow Treatment Plan

Following a prescribed treatment plan consistently is key to managing eczema successfully. This may include using topical medications, oral medications if necessary, and following specific lifestyle recommendations. Adhering to your treatment plan, including any regular follow-up appointments, can help minimize symptoms and improve your overall quality of life.

In conclusion, leaving eczema untreated can lead to various negative consequences. The symptoms can worsen, impacting not only your physical well-being but also your mental health and overall quality of life. Without intervention, the risk of complications, infections, and long-term skin damage increases. Additionally, the financial burden and impact on children cannot be ignored. By taking preventive measures and seeking appropriate medical care, you can effectively manage eczema, minimize symptoms, and improve your overall well-being.