Why is my eczema sore?
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, can progress from itchy to sore
Are the parts of your skin with eczema looking or feeling different than usual? If your eczema-wracked skin feels sore, it’s important to look into it. Depending on the frequency, severity or quality of the irritation, immediate action may be needed.
However, don’t panic. With proper care and observation, the situation can improve. Just remember: when you are dealing with skin conditions, pay attention to developing changes to give yourself the best chance of reducing complications.
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, can progress from itchy to sore, and from sore to infected. If the skin tore from scratching with fingernails, rubbing against rough-textured fabrics, or unintentional bumps against everyday objects, then viruses, bacteria, or fungi may enter the skin. If your eczema exhibits any of the following signs, get a fast diagnosis and proper treatment to prevent the problem from intensifying.
Signs that suggest your eczema has become infected include¹:
- Sudden worsening of eczema signs
- Severe itchiness
- New burning sensations
- Aggravated redness
- Blistered skin
- Fluid drainage, also called ‘weeping eczema’
- Raised temperature or flu-like symptoms
Once you suspect an infection is at play, avoid external or internal triggers and arrange an appointment with your general practitioner or dermatologist. If your symptoms are accompanied by fever, see a doctor immediately.
Why Eczema Can Become Infected
Having eczema damages our epidermis (the first layer of the skin). This visible damage appears as cracks visible to our naked eye, but it also means less protection within the skin. Our skin is the body’s first line of defense against external pathogens. Unfortunately, dermatitis' weakening of the skin barrier increases the potential for skin infection, and, once infected, the skin’s ability to heal is further compromised. So, a quick response is vital.
Living with eczema can feel immensely frustrating, like being stuck in discomfort, yet unable to leave. Any signs of an infection can immediately spike up your stress levels and make life more overwhelming than it has to be. Remember to treat yourself with kindness, especially when things get hard.
Types of Eczema Infections
Eczema infections may be caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses. Some infection possibilities include²:
Bacterial: Staphylococcus aureus³. Initially, eczema infected by Staph. aureus will appear itchy and red or darker than your usual skin colour, depending on skin tone. If you observe closely under natural light, a tangerine-coloured glisten might be apparent on the skin— something like orange body shimmer dust. If the infection progresses, fluid drainage and crusting with a yellow or golden tinge may also appear.
Fungal⁴: Candida albicans is a kind of yeast that is part of our human microflora. It’s the most prevalent cause of fungal infections in people, and can be behind both urinary yeast infections and eczema infections. It’s prone to occur in parts of the body that are moist and sweaty. Signs vary, but burning or itching skin, redness, and worsening of eczema symptoms can be signs of a yeast infection.
Viral: The herpes simplex virus is categorized into two types—HSV-1, which typically produce cold sores in the mouth, and HSV-2, which affects the genital areas. Regardless of which type has been transmitted, herpes can cause an existing eczema infection to become inflamed. The virus spreads through the skin to cause serious and painful inflammation. The areas which are eczema-afflicted may rapidly worsen, and develop fluid-filled blisters which create open sores on the skin. The infection can also be accompanied by feelings of malaise, or a high temperature. Remember: if you are feeling feverish, see a doctor immediately.
¹Atopic eczema - Symptoms. (n.d.). NHS. Retrieved August 28, 2022, from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/atopic-eczema/symptoms/
²Sullivan, D., & Bard, S. (n.d.). Infected Eczema: Pictures, Treatment, Removal, and More. Healthline. Retrieved August 28, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/infected-eczema#symptoms
³Biggers, A. (2021, July 29). Staph infection: Types, symptoms, causes, treatments. Medical News Today. Retrieved August 28, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/staph-infection
⁴Infections and Eczema. (n.d.). National Eczema Society. Retrieved August 28, 2022, from https://eczema.org/information-and-advice/living-with-eczema/skin-infections-and-eczema/