Stages of eczema: acute, subacute and chronic.


Eczema , the general name for several inflammatory skin conditions that cause a red, scaly, blistering rash, has three stages: acute , subacute , and chronic . Each stage of eczema has its own distinct symptoms, indicating the progression of the condition. However, unlike other health problems, the stages of eczema are not as predictable as you might think.

As research progresses, scientists are learning more and more about what actually causes eczema to go through these stages.

Brianna Gilmartin / Get Medication Information

Development of eczema

Researchers have divided eczema into two groups: atopic and non-atopic. Whether the case is one or the other depends on the overactive immune system .

Both types of rash can go through three different stages of eczema the longer they last, but there is no set schedule for that. This varies from rash to rash and from person to person.

The development of eczema in stages is not always linear. For example, a rash can start in the acute stage, progress to subacute, and then chronic. Or it can start with a subacute stage and progress to an acute stage.

The same rash can go through stages many times. The rash can also come and stop at almost any stage .

The different stages of eczema do not reflect the severity of the condition. For example, acute eczema can have mild or severe symptoms; Subacute eczema can also be mild or severe.

It's not always clear why eczema progresses from one stage to the next, but it could be due to exposure to certain triggers, hormonal changes, and possibly changes in the skin's microbiome .

Acute stage

The acute stage refers to eczema that has just started. Itching is often the first sign of acute eczema. This happens even before the rash becomes apparent, which is significantly different from most other types of rashes.

Some features of the acute eczema stage include:

  • Severe redness
  • Severe itching
  • Cones
  • Fluid-filled blisters, called blisters, which may ooze or ooze.
  • Pain
  • Sensitivity
  • Swelling
  • Hot

Acute eczema has very clear limits. In this initial stage, eczema is very severe. The acute stage of eczema is often called an exacerbation.

Acute eczema can be caused by contact with allergens (such as poison ivy or poison oak), an identification reaction (a skin rash that develops in a distant location due to a reaction to a primary infection, usually an infection by fungi) or an exacerbation. of atopic dermatitis. …

There is some evidence that Staphylococcus aureus colonies growing on the skin may exacerbate the disease in atopic dermatitis .

Treatment options in the acute stage

Over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or antihistamines can be used to suppress the immune system. Cold, wet compresses can also help relieve symptoms.

Topical steroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation. Oral steroids can be used when the rash is very severe or widespread .

Although antibiotics do not cure acute eczema, they can be prescribed if the rash is infected.

Subacute stage

The subacute stage is the transition phase between the acute and chronic stages. Eczema can also start in the subacute stage.

At this stage, eczema has the following characteristics:

  • Flaky and flaky skin
  • Cracks in the skin
  • Itching, burning and / or tingling
  • Redness, which may be less intense, but not always.

Subacute symptoms are usually less severe. This is especially true for itching, which can be relieved. However, the burning and tingling sensation in the subacute stage is stronger.

With subacute eczema, the boundaries of the rash are not as clear cut. The rash is dry rather than blistering and oozing .

Many eruptions in acute eczema progress to the subacute phase as they heal. A subacute rash can revert to an acute phase during an eczema exacerbation, while prolonged subacute rashes often become chronic.

In some people, eczema begins with a subacute rash and just stays there. Eczematous eruptions, which generally occur and persist in the subacute stage, are irritant contact dermatitis and perioral dermatitis.

Treatment options in the subacute stage

Moisturizers are very helpful in the subacute stage, as the skin is dry and flaky. Charcoal and antihistamine products can be used to reduce itching and inflammation .

It may also require short-term use of topical calcineurin inhibitors and topical steroids.

Chronic stage

The chronic stage refers to prolonged exacerbations of eczema. Symptoms of chronic eczema usually last three months or more.

However, chronic eczema is not only determined by time. It has its own set of symptoms, which are very different from the other two stages.

Chronic eczema symptoms include:

  • Thickened leathery skin or lichenification (called lichen simplex chronicus)
  • Accentuated skin wrinkles
  • Cracks in the skin
  • Dark, dull, or discolored skin
  • Large areas of skin destruction called excoriation.
  • Itching

Symptoms can be quite severe during the chronic stage, affecting the course of treatment. Many symptoms are caused by repeatedly scratching the skin. As in the acute stage, the itching is intense.

Chronic stage treatment options

Treatment is similar to that for subacute eczema. However, stronger topical steroids may be required to control this stage. They are usually most effective when covered with a protective layer, such as plastic wrap. Moisturizers are also very helpful at this stage.

Get the word of drug information

If you have eczema, you've probably noticed that the rash itself gets worse and worse as it goes through three stages. Being familiar with the stages of eczema can convince you that it is normal for your rash to change. Your doctor can help you choose the best treatment for your rash right away and guide you as your rash changes.

Related Articles
Foods to Avoid If You Have Dry Mouth From Radiation

Dry mouth (xerostomia) is a common side effect of radiation therapy for people undergoing treatment for head and neck cancer. Read more

Thyroid adenoma: Causes, Treatment, and Diagnosis

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your throat that produces hormones affecting a number of Read more

NSAIDs and You Thyroid Function

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most frequently taken over-the-counter medications. Due to their systemic or whole body effects, it's Read more

How Doctors Are Failing Thyroid Disease Patients

The thyroid disease community has continually mentioned the lack of support they experience and the difficulty they have navigating the Read more