Understanding Eczema: Causes, Types, and Management

Eczema is a non-contagious condition that causes skin to become dry and irritated, it can affect anyone of any age.


There are seven types of eczema, but the most common form, atopic eczema affects 1 in 5 children and 1 in 10 adults in the UK1.


Eczema has a range of triggers and characteristics, which can make it difficult to diagnose, treat and manage. Symptoms can be painful with constant itchiness, redness, and broken skin, resulting in discomfort which is more than skin deep – impacting self-esteem and mental wellbeing2.


At Sudocrem®, we understand how difficult living with eczema can be. But what exactly is eczema?


Sudocrem® is here to help you better understand its causes and symptoms and guide you through how best to manage and treat the condition, helping you get on with your day without eczema getting in the way.

What Is Eczema?


Eczema covers a series of inflammatory skin disorders which cause itchiness, dry skin, rashes, scaly patches and in some cases blisters and skin infections.


There are several types of eczema, each of which has distinct triggers and characteristics:


  • Atopic Dermatitis: The most common form of eczema, often running in families and frequently associated with asthma and hay fever. It typically appears in the creases of body joints, such as elbows and knees, and can affect other areas.
  • Contact Dermatitis: This type results from exposure to an allergen or irritant and affects approximately 9% of the UK population3. The skin becomes inflamed where contact has occurred.
  • Dyshidrotic Eczema: Characterized by small, intensely itchy water blisters on the hands and feet, particularly on the sides of fingers and soles.
  • Discoid Eczema: More commonly found in adults, this type features distinctive round or oval lesions that can be extremely itchy, especially at night.
  • Seborrheic Dermatitis: This condition causes a red, flaky, itchy rash primarily affecting the scalp, face, and chest. It appears in both infants (where it’s known as cradle cap) and adults.
  • Varicose Eczema: Commonly occurs in individuals with varicose veins, typically on the legs. The skin becomes itchy, swollen, and irritated, often turning flaky, scaly, or crusty.


Alongside the painful physical symptoms, many children and adults experience related sleeplessness, anxiety, depression and other mental health problems as a result.

What Causes Eczema?


The causes of eczema are complex and each type of has its own distinct triggers, but let’s explore some of the causes behind two of the most common types, Atopic Eczema and Contact Dermatitis in more detail.

What Causes Atopic Eczema?


Atopic eczema often runs in families and usually starts in childhood, although it can appear at any age. It usually gets better as children get older, but can become a chronic (long-term) condition, reoccurring into adulthood.


It causes dry, reddened or darkened skin that may be very itchy, scaly or cracked. Eczema can appear red on white skin or a darker brown, purple or grey on brown and black skin.


You may feel a constant urge to scratch, which can aggravate the condition and split the skin, which may lead to infection, causing weeping eczema with yellow crusts.


Some of the most common causes of atopic eczema include:


  • Overactive immune system: An irritant or allergen from outside the body, can switch on our immune system (our bodies natural defence mechanism) causing inflammation of the skin, which can lead to eczema.
  • Genetics: Eczema can run in families thanks to a genetic component. Our bodies naturally produce a protein called filaggrin which helps to moisturise and hydrate skin. Some of us have a filaggrin deficiency, which can lead to drier skin, making us more susceptible to developing eczema.
  • Environment: Contact with environmental irritants, such as soaps, detergents and other household irritants or allergens can lead to an eczema flare up

What Causes Contact Dermatitis?


Contact dermatitis on the other hand is caused by environmental triggers and irritants which directly damage the outer layer of the skin, such as soaps and detergents or regular contact with water.


There are two distinct types of contact dermatitis:


  • Irritant contact dermatitis: This occurs as a result of direct contact with the substances which damage or irritate the skin, such as soaps, detergents, cleaning products, cosmetics and raw food.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis: This is caused by a specific reaction to certain type of chemical following repeated exposure. Common allergens include fragrances, antiseptics, hair dyes, henna and formaldehyde.


Symptoms of contact dermatitis can range from mild dryness and skin redness to more severe symptoms including painful skin burns which can become ulcerated.

How do you prevent and manage eczema?


There is no cure for eczema and with so much information available on how to treat eczema, it can often be overwhelming and confusing, not knowing which way to turn or which treatment will work best for you.


Treatments range from over-the-counter creams to prescription medicines, as well as alternative therapies including cryotherapy, meditation and acupuncture.


While eczema can be extremely uncomfortable and frustrating, there are steps you can take to manage eczema flare-ups including:


  • Avoid exposure to triggers: Knowing your triggers will help minimise the risk if flare-ups occurring
  • Implement a daily bathing and moisturising routine: Keeping skin clean and hydrated will help maintain its barrier function and overall health
  • Topical Treatments: Sudocrem® Antiseptic Healing Cream is licensed to treat eczema, reducing inflammation.
  • Avoid scratching: Resist the urge to scratch no matter how hard it might be. Constant scratching can irritate the skin further increasing the risk of infection


Remember to always consult a healthcare provider or dermatologist for personalised recommendations – as no two people have the same experience of eczema.

 How does Sudocrem® Antiseptic Healing Cream treat eczema?

Sudocrem® Antiseptic Healing Cream is a versatile cream that can be used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including eczema.


Here’s how Sudocrem® Antiseptic Healing Cream can help you manage your eczema:


  • Treats inflamed skin: Our formulation helps calm irritated skin and reduces redness
  • Soothing properties: Soothes and protects irritated skin, reducing redness and calming discomfort
  • Barrier function: Sudocrem® forms a protective barrier on the skin, helping guard against further irritation and environmental aggressors which might trigger a flare-up


Learn More: Explore our website for information on other conditions Sudocrem® can help treat, from nappy rash to eczema. Sudocrem®’s versatility extends beyond eczema, so discover its full potential!


  1. https://eczema.org/information-and-advice/   Date accessed: May 2024
  2. https://www.allergyuk.org/resources/eczema-atopic-dermatitis-factsheet/ Date accessed: May 2024
  3. https://eczema.org/information-and-advice/types-of-eczema/contact-dermatitis Date accessed: May 2024

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