How do I Know if my Eczema is Infected?
It’s fairly common to wonder if your eczema is infected especially if you’ve recently developed it, or it appears to be acting differently than it has in the past. It’s important to remember that eczema is an inflammatory skin condition, not an infection. The itching, scaling, and redness are all normal symptoms of this condition, as are the small fluid-filled blisters and even cracking that can appear if the skin is severely affected. However, if you begin to see differences in your eczema, it pays to keep an eye on them and determine the reason behind them, at least until you have a chance to have your skin evaluated by a dermatologist.”
“Certainly, eczema is know to flare and worsen in specific circumstances,” says Dr. Miriam Hanson, board certified dermatologist at Sanova Dermatology in Austin, Texas. “Still, if your skin is worsening or changing and you don’t know why, it is important to make sure there isn’t something more serious going on.” With scratching and itching, bacteria and other organisms can easily find there way through the skin’s barrier and cause infection.
There are several different causes and types of eczema, including Atopic Dermatitis which is one of the most common forms. It often appears in childhood and can affect those with asthma, hay fever, or general defects in the skin barrier. Contact Dermatitis (also called Irritant Contact Dermatitis) can develop after someone comes in contact with a strong irritant or coming into contact with an irritant over a long period of time.
“There’s been a fair amount of research regarding a relationship between Staph bacteria and atopic eczema,” says Dr. Hanson. While there have been some links made, there is still no evidence that Staph directly causes eczema. Though it may contribute to it, along with genetic vulnerability, it’s often the ‘opportunistic effect’ that is more concerning. “Because this Staph bacteria often colonizes and grows on the skin of eczema patients, it can easily invade and cause infection if the skin is scratched or excoriated.”
In truth, there are some common infections seen in patients with eczema. Molluscum contangiosum are small firm almost blister-appearing growths caused by contact with a virus. Eczema herpeticum is a rare but severe disseminated Herpes virus infection commonly found at the site of skin damage caused by atopic dermatitis, and can infect multiple internal organs such as the lungs, liver, eyes, and brain. Impetiginized eczema occurs when an individual is infected with Impetigo on top of irritation caused by eczema.
Contact us for more information on eczema, common infections you may want to watch out for, or to have your skin checked over by one of our qualified dermatologists.