Many of us may be enjoying the warmer weather, but when it comes to our skin and our bodies, it's a different story. With summer comes a whole new crop of health issues — one of them being eczema, a skin condition that can more than a little frustrating to deal with. It's also quite common; according to the National Eczema Association, more than 30 million Americans have eczema. If you've never had it before, you shouldn't assume you're in the clear. Eczema can come on at any time during one's life, and it often comes and goes. That's why it's important to know the unexpected signs of eczema, so that you can go to a doctor if you find you're suffering from any of the symptoms.
First, though, you should probably get a better understanding of what this skin condition is. Eczema is the name of a group of conditions that can cause your skin to become red, itchy, and inflamed, and it's typically thought of as a condition of excessive dryness. There are several different types of the condition, and while some are more severe than others, it's generally manageable and easy to control. That said, the condition can still be painful and disruptive. Studies have found that eczema can negatively affect workplace productivity and is associated with risky health behaviors like smoking.
When it comes to the symptoms of eczema, you probably think you know what they are: red skin that itches constantly, maybe something that looks like an interesting rash. And yes, extreme itchiness is almost always associated with eczema, as that is byfar the most common symptom — so is generally dry, red skin. All of these are important to watch for, but there are some other unexpected signs of eczema that you should also be looking out for. Here are a few:
1. Your Skin Gets Irritated In The Heat
Those with eczema will typically suffer from flare-ups. In other words, you don't have a rash or irritation 24/7; rather the symptoms pop up from time to time due to certain triggers. One common trigger is experiencing an eczema flare-up whenever skin gets very hot and/or sweaty. That's why eczema often happens in the spring of summertime. The heat can irritate your skin and lead to a breakout of eczema.
2. You See Dark Colored Patches
When you think of eczema, you might automatically think of a red rash. That's not always the case. For some people, these reddish areas can eventually turn brown, especially for people with fair skin. For darker-skinned people, eczema can affect pigmentation and actually cause lighter areas on the skin. Any discolored skin, along with a lot of dry, itchy patches, should be a warning sign to see a doctor.
3. Any Oozing And Crusting On Your Skin
Because eczema is known for dryness and itchiness, many people assume that it's not associated with oozing rashes. It is, though: As it gets worse, an itchy rash can often produce blisters, which can ooze and then get crusty.
4. You Have Allergies
Allergies and eczema often go hand in hand. In fact, many people mistake eczema rashes for allergies or psoriasis. Doctors consider eczema to be part of the atopic triad, along with asthma and hay fever. If you've had either of those conditions and inflamed skin, you probably also have eczema.
5. You Notice Swelling
Again, because eczema is often thought of as dry, scaly skin, many people don't think swelling is a symptom. It is, though, and it's mainly from scratching too much. So if you're super itchy and your skin is starting to look swollen, it could be an issue you need medical help for.
6. You Get A Rash Whenever You Get A Cold
There are many different triggers of eczema. If you notice that you always break out in an itchy rash whenever you have a cold, it might not just be another symptom of the cold. Upper respiratory infections and colds can be triggers for eczema.
7. You Notice Rashes Only In Certain Spots
It can be hard to tell if dry skin is eczema, since you can get that from so many different things. Pay attention to where your skin is irritated, though, because eczema typically shows up in specific spots. One dermatologist says that eczema "tends to favor flexural areas" such as "the fold of the arms, the fold of the wrist, the fold of the neck, and the folds behind the knees." If you notice your rashes are always cropping up in these spots, it's worth seeing a doctor.