9 Complications of Eczema
Eileen Bailey | March 24, 2016
Reviewed by Michael Lehrer, MD on Dec 10, 2017
In many cases, managing eczema symptoms can be done with minimum disruption to a person’s life. However, similar to living with other chronic conditions, having eczema can lead to a number of different health and psycho-social complications.
Bacterial skin infection
Eczema puts a person at higher risk of developing an infection from the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria - which thrives on weepy or broken skin. A University of Maryland study found that Staph infections encourage immune cells to react in a way that produces “eczema-like rashes.” Yellow crusting on the skin, swollen or sore skin, oozing fluid from open skin sores and a fever may be symptoms of a bacterial skin infection.
Those with eczema might be more susceptible to developing yeast infections, also called Candida and thrush. Both forms of yeast develop in the presence of warm, moist skin. Older studies show Candida to be a possible cause of eczema, especially in infants, and that treating Candida may possibly help in reducing eczema symptoms. Symptoms of a fungal infections include redness, itching, scaling, blisters or the skin becoming cracked and sore. You might also have lesions in your mouth.
People with eczema have a lower resistance to the Herpes simplex virus, which is the virus that causes cold sores. Symptoms of a viral infection include painful patches of eczema, fluid filled blisters that break open and leave small, open sores and a fever. Contracting the Herpes simplex virus may also cause a severe form of skin infection known as eczema herpeticum.It’s important that if you are living with eczema, that you avoid others with cold sores to reduce your risk.
Erythroderma (exfoliative dermatitis), another type of inflammatory skin condition, is associated with redness of the skin and the skin peeling off in layers. Pre existing skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema can worsen and progress into erythroderma. The condition can arise or become severe in those with untreated or unstable eczema. It can cause additional problems such as heart failure, infection, dehydration, malnutrition and swelling. Hospitalization and antibiotics are often necessary to treat erythroderma.
Some people with eczema experience eye problems such as a fold of the skin on the lower eyelid, conjuctivitis, keratoconus (cone shaped eyeball), cataracts and retinal detachment. Less severe complications may include itching around the eyelids, excessive watering of the eyes or inflammation of the eyelid. If you experience problems with your eyes, you should talk with your doctor and possibly a specialist.
The itch-scratch cycle that typically accompanies eczema can cause a person to consistently wake up at night or make it difficult to fall asleep. Repeatedly getting a lack of sleep can lead to irritability, lack of focus and other behavioral and medical problems.
Attention deficit hyperactivity
Some studies have shown a relationship between eczema and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In several birth cohort studies, researchers have found that children with eczema have a greater than 40 percent higher risk of also being diagnosed with ADHD or exhibit clinical ADHD symptoms. The main symptoms of ADHD include inability to sustain attention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
For some people with eczema, the rash and itch causes self-esteem issues. There may be worry about how other people will percieve the redness and rash and shy away from social situations. Children with eczema might be ostracized or bullied by their classmates. Talking with a therapist might provide healthy ways to boost self-esteem.
Asthma and allergies
Many children with eczema are found to later develop asthma and allergy symptoms, such as hay fever or food allergies. You should consult your doctor if you or your child develop symptoms of allergies.