Depending on your pattern of skin symptoms, your doctor will ask about your personal and family allergy history, your history of exposure to irritating chemicals and your contact with potential allergy triggers, such as poison ivy.
In many cases, your doctor can diagnose eczema by examining the skin. If your doctor suspects that allergies are involved, patch testing with various allergy causing chemicals (nickel, lanolin, fragrances, etc.) may be necessary.
Depending on the type of eczema, symptoms may go away after a week or two, or persist for years. For example, contact dermatitis caused by poison ivy usually lasts about two or three weeks, while atopic dermatitis that begin in childhood can persist into adulthood. Stasis dermatitis related to varicose veins can last for many years.