More than half of all skin diseases are classified as eczema/dermatitis. These terms both describe inflammatory conditions of the skin associated with symptoms such as redness and swelling, blisters, weeping, itching and scratching.
Some people are born with an inherited allergic tendency called atopy. Most eczema patients are atopic and they may also suffer from other allergic diseases such as asthma, hay fever, urticaria or rhinitis.
Contact eczema/dermatitis is also common and is often caused by sensitivity to nickel in jewellery or studs in clothing. Other trigger substances include irritant chemicals such as oils from exposure at the workplace: - for example shampoo in hairdressers, cement (containing chromium) in builders.
In atopic patients the rash usually starts on the face, particularly over the cheeks and chin. Other patients may have a rash in the folds of the elbows, knees, buttocks, ankles and wrists.