Eczema is derived from a Greek word meaning "to boil out", possibly because people with eczema tend to overheat as their skin does not regulate temperature properly. "Eczema" is also the general term for any type of dermatitis that is itchy.
There are many types of eczema and most look red and inflamed and some will blister, weep or peel. Eczema typically affects the insides of the elbows, backs of the knees and the face but some types of eczema can cover most of the body.
Diagnosing Eczema ...
- itchiness in the skin creases, such as the folds behind the knees and elbows, fronts of the ankles or around the neck (children under four years may also have it on their cheeks)
- dry skin
- visible eczema affecting the outer limbs, cheeks or forehead
- symptoms appearing within two years of birth (not always an indication, but very common)
- family history of asthma, hay fever or (if under four years old) a history of atopic disease in a first-degree relative.(1)
Other symptoms include oozing and weeping in between the skin folds (such as elbows and knees); thickening of the skin, poor sleep, flaking skin, and scratch marks from scratching.
Karen Fischer, 2014, 'What is eczema?', edited extract from The Eczema Diet (Exisle Publishing).