What Is Eczema That Won’t Go Away?

Imagine dealing with itchy, red, and inflamed skin that just won’t seem to go away. Eczema, a chronic skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide, can be a frustrating and sometimes perplexing issue to deal with. But what exactly is eczema that won’t go away? In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and potential treatment options for this persistent skin condition, providing you with a better understanding of how to manage and alleviate its unwelcome presence in your life.

Definition of Eczema

Understanding the skin condition

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic and inflammatory skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by red, itchy, and inflamed patches of skin that can be both uncomfortable and aesthetically distressing. Eczema is a non-contagious condition, meaning it cannot be transmitted from person to person. It often starts in infancy or childhood and can persist into adulthood, although it may also develop later in life.

Different types of eczema

There are various types of eczema, each with its own unique characteristics and triggers. The most common type is atopic eczema, which is commonly found in individuals with a family history of allergies or asthma. Other types of eczema include contact dermatitis, which is triggered by coming into direct contact with irritants or allergens, and nummular eczema, which is characterized by round, coin-shaped patches of irritated skin. Dyshidrotic eczema affects the hands and feet, while seborrheic eczema commonly affects the scalp and face.

Symptoms and Signs of Eczema

Common symptoms experienced

People with eczema often experience intense itching, which can lead to scratching and further aggravation of the skin. The affected areas may appear dry, scaly, and rough, and can sometimes develop blisters or weepy sores. The skin may also feel hot, sensitive, or painful to touch. Additionally, individuals with eczema may experience sleep disturbances due to itching and discomfort, which can have a significant impact on their quality of life.

Visible signs on the skin

One of the most noticeable signs of eczema is the appearance of red, inflamed patches on the skin. These patches may be accompanied by small, raised bumps or blisters, depending on the specific type of eczema. The affected areas of skin may also become thickened and hyperpigmented over time. In severe cases, the skin may crack, bleed, or develop secondary infections due to scratching and bacteria entering the open wounds.

Causes of Eczema

Genetics and family history

Researchers have identified a strong genetic component to the development of eczema. If you have a family history of allergies, asthma, or eczema, you may be more prone to developing the condition. Certain genetic variations can impact the skin’s barrier function and its ability to retain moisture effectively, making it more susceptible to dryness and irritation.

Environmental triggers

Various environmental factors can trigger or exacerbate eczema flare-ups. These triggers can include exposure to irritants such as soaps, detergents, and certain fabrics, as well as allergens like dust mites, pollen, pet dander, and certain foods. Additionally, extreme temperatures, humidity levels, and sweating can also contribute to the development of eczema symptoms.

Immune system dysfunction

Eczema is believed to be a result of an immune system dysfunction. Individuals with eczema often have an overactive immune response, leading to increased levels of inflammation in the skin. This immune dysregulation can cause the skin to become more sensitive and reactive to various triggers, resulting in the development of eczema symptoms.

Factors Contributing to Persistent Eczema

Inadequate skincare routine

Maintaining a proper skincare routine is essential for managing eczema. Failing to moisturize regularly or using harsh, drying products can worsen the symptoms and contribute to persistent flare-ups. It is crucial to choose gentle, fragrance-free moisturizers and cleansers that are specifically formulated for sensitive skin. Applying moisturizers immediately after bathing or showering, when the skin is still slightly damp, can help lock in moisture and prevent excessive drying.

Allergic reactions to certain substances

Some individuals with eczema may develop allergic reactions to certain substances, known as contact dermatitis. Common allergens can include nickel, certain fragrances, cosmetics, latex, and certain types of plants. Identifying and avoiding these allergens can help reduce the occurrence of eczema flare-ups.

Stress and emotional triggers

Stress and emotional factors can significantly impact eczema symptoms. High levels of stress can weaken the immune system and trigger inflammatory responses in the body, leading to increased skin sensitivity and flare-ups. Engaging in stress-reducing activities such as exercise, meditation, and spending time with loved ones can help manage stress levels and improve eczema symptoms.

Weather and climate effects

Extreme weather conditions, such as cold, dry winters or hot, humid summers, can aggravate eczema symptoms. Cold, dry air can strip the skin of its natural moisture, leading to increased dryness and itching. Meanwhile, exposure to excessive heat and humidity can cause sweating and increased sensitivity, contributing to eczema flare-ups. Protecting the skin and adapting skincare routines to accommodate different weather conditions can help manage eczema symptoms more effectively.

Diagnosis and Medical Evaluation

Consulting a dermatologist

If you suspect that you have eczema, it is essential to seek medical advice from a qualified dermatologist. They can evaluate your symptoms, perform necessary tests, and develop an appropriate treatment plan tailored to your needs.

Physical examination

During a physical examination, the dermatologist will thoroughly examine your skin for visible signs of eczema. They will look for redness, inflammation, scaling, blisters, and other characteristic eczema symptoms. The dermatologist may also inquire about the history of your symptoms and any triggers that seem to worsen them.

Medical history assessment

To determine the potential cause and severity of your eczema, the dermatologist will also assess your medical history. They may ask you about your family’s medical history, especially if there is a history of allergies, asthma, or eczema. Additionally, they may inquire about your personal history of eczema flare-ups, potential triggers, and any previous treatments you have tried.

Allergy tests

In some cases, the dermatologist may recommend allergy tests to identify any specific allergens that may be contributing to your eczema flare-ups. These tests can include skin prick tests or blood tests to detect specific IgE antibodies. Identifying and avoiding these allergens can help minimize future flare-ups and manage your condition more effectively.

Skin biopsy

In rare cases, a skin biopsy may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis or rule out other potential skin conditions. During a skin biopsy, a small sample of the affected skin is taken and examined under a microscope to determine if there are any underlying factors contributing to your eczema.

Treatment Options for Chronic Eczema

Topical corticosteroids

Topical corticosteroids are commonly prescribed to reduce inflammation and relieve itching in eczema patients. These medications come in various strengths and formulations and can be applied directly to the affected areas of the skin. It is essential to follow your dermatologist’s instructions carefully when using corticosteroids to minimize potential side effects, such as thinning of the skin or discoloration.

Calcineurin inhibitors

For individuals who cannot tolerate or do not respond well to corticosteroids, calcineurin inhibitors may be recommended. These medications help suppress the immune response in the skin, reducing inflammation and relieving eczema symptoms. Calcineurin inhibitors come in the form of creams or ointments and are typically used for short-term management of eczema flare-ups.


Immunomodulators, such as systemic immunosuppressants or biologic agents, may be prescribed for individuals with severe eczema that does not respond to other treatment options. These medications work by modifying the immune response to reduce inflammation and improve symptoms. However, due to their potential side effects and risks, these treatments are typically reserved for severe cases of eczema that have not responded to other therapies.

Systemic medications

In some cases, oral or injectable medications may be prescribed to control eczema symptoms. These systemic medications, such as oral corticosteroids or oral immunosuppressants, are usually reserved for severe cases and require careful monitoring by a healthcare professional.


Phototherapy, also known as light therapy, involves exposing the skin to specific wavelengths of ultraviolet (UV) light to reduce inflammation and improve eczema symptoms. This treatment option is typically administered in a controlled medical setting and may require multiple sessions over a period to achieve optimal results.

Wet dressings and bandages

Wet dressings and bandages can be useful for individuals with severe eczema or widespread lesions. This technique involves applying a layer of medication or a moisturizer to the affected skin and covering it with a wet bandage or dressing. This helps promote skin hydration and absorption of medication, leading to improved healing and symptom relief.

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Eczema

Moisturizing regularly

One of the most crucial aspects of managing eczema is maintaining adequate skin hydration. Regularly applying moisturizers to the affected areas can help soothe the skin, reduce dryness, and prevent flare-ups. Look for moisturizers that are fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and specifically formulated for sensitive skin.

Gentle cleansing practices

When cleansing your skin, use gentle, non-irritating cleansers that do not strip the skin of its natural oils. Avoid hot water and opt for lukewarm temperatures instead. Pat dry the skin gently with a soft towel instead of rubbing vigorously, as this can further irritate and aggravate eczema-prone skin.

Avoiding irritants and allergens

Identifying and avoiding potential irritants and allergens can help minimize eczema flare-ups. Common irritants can include harsh soaps, detergents, fragrances, certain fabrics, and chemicals. Pay attention to your environment and make necessary changes, such as using hypoallergenic products or wearing gloves when handling substances that may cause a reaction.

Wearing breathable fabrics

Choosing clothing made from breathable fabrics, such as cotton or bamboo, can help prevent excessive sweating and irritation. Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing or fabrics that trap heat and moisture against the skin, as this can exacerbate eczema symptoms.

Managing stress levels

Stress has been known to trigger or worsen eczema flare-ups. Finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as engaging in relaxation techniques, exercise, or hobbies, can help reduce the impact of stress on your skin. Consider incorporating practices like yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, or journaling into your routine.

Maintaining a healthy diet

While diet alone cannot cure eczema, maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet may help support overall skin health. Some individuals with eczema have reported improvements in their symptoms by avoiding potential trigger foods, such as dairy, gluten, eggs, or certain fruits. It’s essential to speak with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian before making significant dietary changes to ensure that you are still meeting your nutritional needs.

Alternative and Complementary Therapies

Natural remedies and herbal treatments

Some individuals with eczema may seek relief through natural remedies and herbal treatments. These can include ingredients such as aloe vera, calendula, chamomile, or coconut oil. While these remedies may provide temporary relief or soothe the skin, it is important to note that scientific evidence for their effectiveness is limited. It’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional before trying any alternative treatments.

Aromatherapy and essential oils

Aromatherapy, which involves the use of essential oils, has gained popularity as a complementary therapy for eczema. Essential oils such as lavender, tea tree, or chamomile may have soothing or anti-inflammatory properties when properly diluted and used under the guidance of a qualified aromatherapist or healthcare professional.

Acupuncture and acupressure

Acupuncture and acupressure are traditional practices that involve the stimulation of specific points in the body to promote healing and balance. Some individuals with eczema have reported improvements in their symptoms after acupuncture or acupressure sessions. However, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of these therapies for eczema management.

Relaxation techniques

Engaging in relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, or deep breathing exercises, can help reduce stress levels, promote relaxation, and potentially improve eczema symptoms. These techniques can be practiced individually or with the guidance of a healthcare professional or a qualified therapist.


Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine that utilizes highly diluted substances derived from plants, minerals, or animals to stimulate the body’s natural healing response. Some individuals with eczema have reported improvements in their symptoms with homeopathic treatments. However, the effectiveness of homeopathy is still a subject of debate, and it is crucial to consult with a trained homeopath or healthcare professional before using any homeopathic remedies.

Preventive Measures to Reduce Eczema Flare-ups

Identifying personal triggers

Keeping track of your symptoms and potential triggers can help you identify patterns and make necessary lifestyle adjustments. Pay attention to factors such as specific foods, environmental allergens, stress levels, or changes in climate that seem to worsen your eczema. Identifying and avoiding these triggers can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups.

Developing a skincare routine

Establishing a consistent skincare routine is essential for managing eczema. This routine should include gentle cleansing, regular moisturizing, and the application of any prescribed medications. It is important to follow your dermatologist’s recommendations and keep your skin well-hydrated and protected.

Using hypoallergenic products

To minimize the risk of skin irritation and flare-ups, use hypoallergenic products that are specifically formulated for sensitive skin. Look for labels that indicate the absence of known irritants and allergens. This includes avoiding products with fragrances, dyes, and harsh chemicals that can potentially trigger eczema symptoms.

Avoiding prolonged exposure to water

Excessive exposure to water, especially hot water, can strip the skin of its natural oils and exacerbate eczema symptoms. Limit your time spent in the shower or bath and use lukewarm water instead of hot. After bathing, gently pat the skin dry and immediately apply moisturizer to retain moisture.

Maintaining a consistent environment

Creating and maintaining a consistent environment can help reduce the risk of eczema flare-ups. Avoid excessive temperature fluctuations, high humidity levels, and exposure to extreme weather conditions whenever possible. Using humidifiers or dehumidifiers in your living space can help maintain optimal humidity levels for your skin.

When to Seek Medical Advice

Persistent symptoms that worsen

If you have been diligently following your treatment plan and implementing lifestyle changes but your symptoms persist or worsen, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional. They can reassess your condition, adjust your treatment plan, or explore alternative options to better manage your eczema.

Severe itchiness or discomfort

Intense itching and discomfort can significantly impact your quality of life and well-being. If you are experiencing severe itchiness that interferes with your daily activities or sleep, it is crucial to seek medical advice. Your healthcare provider can recommend additional treatment options or interventions to provide relief.

Infection or skin complications

Eczema-prone skin is more susceptible to infection and other skin complications. If you notice signs of infection, such as increasing redness, swelling, oozing, or the development of pus, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. Prompt treatment can help prevent the spread of infection and protect your skin from further damage.

Impact on daily life and sleep

Eczema can significantly impact your daily life, including work, school, and social activities. If your condition is causing substantial disruptions to your daily routine or interfering with your ability to function, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional. They can provide guidance and support to help manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Significant emotional distress

Living with chronic eczema can take a toll on your emotional well-being. If you are experiencing significant emotional distress, anxiety, depression, or a decline in your overall mental health, it is essential to reach out to your healthcare provider or a mental health professional. They can provide the necessary support and resources to help you navigate the emotional challenges associated with eczema.

In conclusion, eczema is a complex and chronic skin condition that requires a comprehensive approach to management. By understanding the different types of eczema, recognizing common symptoms and triggers, seeking appropriate medical evaluation and treatment, implementing recommended lifestyle changes, and staying proactive in preventive measures, individuals with eczema can effectively manage their condition and improve their quality of life. Remember, if you have any concerns or questions about your eczema, always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance.