What complications are associated with atopic eczema?
Can eczema get worse?
In most cases, eczema remains benign. Of course, the itching is extremely uncomfortable, and the psychological impact can be significant, but eczema poses no vital threat to health, especially if you are able to relieve symptoms by adopting treatments and making some lifestyle changes.
In rare cases, complications may arise, and the condition can take a more serious turn.
Atopic eczema complications
Case 1: eczema can become generalized
Generalized eczema is very rare. This form of eczema affects more than 90% of the skin surface. Redness is accompanied by peeling and, in some cases, intense itching (pruritus) and edema. This syndrome requires urgent dermatological care and hospitalization.
Generalized eczema is also known as erythroderma.
Case 2: eczema can lead to an infection or superinfection
Atopic skin is damaged and more sensitive to bacterial and viral infections.
Bacterial infection or superinfection
Scratch marks associated with eczema can lead to a bacterial superinfection, most often caused by golden staphylococcus.
Is a yellow fluid oozing from the skin? Scabs turning a yellowish hue? Patches more painful? See a doctor, as you are most likely in urgent need of a prescription for antibiotics.
Viral infection or superinfection
This virus needs just a tiny wound or scratch to colonize the skin. In some cases, scratch marks can act as the gateway. This infection causes an outbreak of small round warts on the skin. They may appear pink or match the skin tone, and are about the size of a grain of rice.
The appearance of small blisters on the red eczema patches and a change in the overall condition may lead to a superinfection associated with herpes. Indeed, the latter can cause complications in eczema lesions. An antiviral treatment would thus be necessary.
How can you prevent eczema complications?
The more you scratch, the higher your risk of infection or superinfection, as you are creating lesions on your already damaged skin. This is why it is important to avoid scratching. Another tip is to keep your nails short to eliminate any risk!
Having trouble resisting the urge to scratch? Here are some tips and advice on how you can scratch less.
Avoid contact with people who have “cold sores”
The oral herpes virus can cause a superinfection in eczema, which could lead to serious complications if the eczema is widespread. This is why we recommend keeping your distance from people with labial herpes.
Protect atopic skin
If your eczema is caused by atopy, then your skin barrier is more permeable. You need to help it rebuild as much as possible to avoid complications. Be sure to apply your emollient as instructed!
Eczema can have a psychological impact
Because of its visibility and misconceptions surrounding the condition—and because the itching can be extremely uncomfortable—eczema can greatly alter patients’ quality of life. You should know how to listen to the psychological suffering associated with eczema: there are ways to relieve this suffering when it occurs.