What does eczema look like on arms?

Each type of eczema can affect the skin differently, from how the skin is damaged to what areas of the body are affected.

UV light affects the immune system. In some people, it can improve moderate to severe cases of eczema from atopic dermatitis or contact dermatitis. Usually, these treatments use UVB light. “PUVA” is a UV treatment combined with a drug called psoralen. But it doesn’t work for everyone, and it makes some people’s eczema worse. Too much UV light is bad for your skin. So you should talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits.

There are various prescription and over-the-counter medication options for reducing flare-ups and skin inflammation. It is possible that medications may impact your skin barrier or your immune system, so make sure to discuss the potential side effects with your healthcare provider. Medication options include:

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If a rash won’t go away, is uncomfortable, or gets a crust or pus-filled blister, see your doctor. They will check your medical history, symptoms, and ask you about any allergies that run in your family. You may also get allergy tests or a microscopic exam of a skin scraping (seen here) to rule out infections.

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Ashley Abramson is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee, WI. She’s written for the New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, and more.

Alitretinoin, a relative of vitamin A, may improve or even clear up this condition when other treatments don’t work. It hasn’t yet been approved by the FDA for this use. It can give you headaches or dry, flushing, or sun-sensitive skin. Alitretinoin can cause severe birth defects, so you shouldn’t take it when you’re planning to get pregnant.

The different types of eczema include:

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22) Dr P. Marazzi / Science Source

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This type of eczema was first called dyshidrosis, meaning difficulty sweating. Although the term “dyshidrotic eczema” is still used today, it is not medically accurate—as the disease is not caused by abnormal sweat glands. Other terms for dyshidrotic eczema include pompholyx, recurrent vesicular palmoplantar dermatitis, or acute palmoplantar dermatitis.

Eczema can usually be diagnosed based on the appearance of your skin lesions and where they are located on your body. Usually, your healthcare provider will need to rule out other types of eczema and other skin conditions, such as psoriasis (an autoimmune skin disorder), fungal skin infections (like tinea), or mite infestations (like scabies).

These can look a lot alike. You’ll want to make sure that it really is eczema, and not an infection. Tell your doctor about symptoms of an infection, such as honey-colored crusts, pus- or fluid-filled blisters, scaly patches, swelling, or a fever.

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raised rash under armpit

The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis, which causes inflamed, itchy rashes on the skin. In the United States, about 3 in 10 people have atopic dermatitis—primarily children and teenagers. This type of eczema affects about 7% of adults.

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17) Dr P. Marazzi / Science Source

It’s sometimes called “the itch that rashes,” because the itching usually comes first. This group of skin rashes is very common in babies and toddlers. Adults can have it too, often as scaly, leathery patches or on their hands. Atopic dermatitis is a common, often inherited form of eczema, but there are other types and many treatments.

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