Eczema is the general term given to different types of persistent skin inflammation called dermatitis. The most common form of eczema is atopic dermatitis, an oversensitivity to environmental factors such as allergens and other pollutants. Atopic dermatitis is commonly found in people who have hay fever, asthma, or other allergies.
The most common symptoms of eczema is red, itchy, and swollen skin. Symptoms can vary according to the type of eczema and the individual person affected. Some people have dry, scaly skin; still others have moist, oozing bumps. Persistent itching of the affected area can lead to infection and in some cases, permanent scarring.
While some forms of eczema, such as contact dermatitis, can be eliminated through medications and removal of the causal agent, most eczema is incurable and is relieved only through treatment of the symptoms themselves. Treatments include keeping the dry areas clean and moisturized, avoiding certain soaps, detergents and chemicals, applying topical steroids, and taking antihistamines such as diphenhydramine.