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A group of conditions in which the skin becomes inflamed, forms blisters, and becomes crusty, thick, and scaly. Eczema causes burning and itching, and may occur over a long period of time.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Eczema

Skin rash and severe itching are typical symptoms of eczema. This inflammatory skin condition is common in children. It often gets better over time and it may also go away for a while or altogether. The acute symptoms of eczema can really affect your quality of life. Itching in particular might be very unpleasant, affecting your sleep and ability to concentrate. Some people who have eczema feel "uncomfortable in their own skin" and feel embarrassed when they have a rash that others can see. But regular skin care, medication and other steps can relieve the symptoms and keep them from affecting people's daily life too much.


Eczema causes both acute and chronic symptoms. The acute symptoms include red and itchy skin, and sometimes weeping blisters. In the long term it can become dry and cracked, and also thicken... Read more about Eczema

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Probiotics for treating eczema

There is not enough evidence to recommend using probiotics for the treatment of eczema.

Topical pimecrolimus for eczema

This review of clinical trials aimed to find out whether topical pimecrolimus is better than topical corticosteroids or tacrolimus for treating eczema in infants, children and adults by assessing the improvement of eczema and adverse events associated with treatments.

Effects of antihistamines on eczema

Eczema is a common chronic disease. Itch is the most important symptom, and eczema is often accompanied by dry skin. Skin lesions include rash, redness, swelling of the skin, crusts, oozing, and sometimes also bleeding as a consequence of persistent scratching. Although the disease can resolve during childhood, it might also recur in or persist into adult life. The cause of eczema is considered to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Moisturisers, topical corticosteroids, and topical immunomodulators are the mainstay during treatment of eczema, while more severe cases might need UV light therapy or systemic immunosuppressants. Itch is very difficult to treat and leads to scratching, which leads to more inflammation of the skin, and often people with eczema end up in a vicious circle of itching and scratching. The role of histamine in itching associated with eczema is not fully elucidated, but oral H1 antihistamines have been used for many years in the treatment of eczema. These might have been used largely for their sedative action, with highly sedative antihistamines, e.g. chlorpheniramine and hydroxyzine. However, oral H1 antihistamines are widely used in the treatment of allergic disorders, such as urticaria, allergic rhinitis, and allergic conjunctivitis, but their efficacy in alleviating itch and eczema remains unclear. This systematic review sought evidence for the effects and safety of the use of oral antihistamines for eczema, to guide their use in clinical practice.

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Summaries for consumers

Eczema in children: Can prebiotics or probiotics help prevent it?

Probiotic supplements for pregnant women and babies can prevent the development of eczema in some children. Probiotics have been better researched than prebiotics.

Eczema: Can eliminating particular foods help?

There is no proof that elimination diets can reduce eczema in babies or children who do not have established food allergies. There has been very little research on elimination diets in adults with eczema.

Probiotics for treating eczema

There is not enough evidence to recommend using probiotics for the treatment of eczema.

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More about Eczema

Photo of an adult woman

See Also: Atopic Dermatitis

Other terms to know:
Inflammation, Rash, Skin

Related articles:
How the Immune System Works

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