Eczema is a common skin condition caused by skin inflammation. There are several types of eczema and atopic eczema is the most common type. Most people with eczema respond well to treatment but some people may continue to have bothersome symptoms for years (repeated episodes of flare-up of symptoms). Duration of eczema is affected by several factors such as type of eczema, response to treatment, adherence to treatment and type of eczema.
Expected duration of eczema
Atopic eczema: It primarily affects children and most cases improve with treatment by 5 years of age. Some children can continue to have exacerbations throughout adolescence and into adulthood. Some factors associated with repeated flare-up include girls and patients with severe disease, early age of onset, family history, and associated rhinitis or asthma. However, even in these patients, the symptoms usually resolve completely by 30 years of age.
Contact allergic eczema: If the substance to which the person is allergic can be identified and avoided, the symptoms do not last long. In most people the rash improves after treatment for one to two weeks. The rash may heal on its own (without treatment) in about three weeks. However as you remain sensitive to the substance (allergen) for all your life, repeated exposure to it will result in rash and eczema. Lifelong avoidance is needed to keep eczema at bay. Some factors which increase the likelihood of prolonged disease (repeated episodes of flare-ups) include occupation-associated contact dermatitis, delayed treatment, presence of chronic dermatitis, allergy to substances such as nickel and chromium, and a history of atopic dermatitis.
Irritant contact eczema: People with this type of eczema tend to have difficulty in controlling the disease (i.e., repeated episodes of flare-up), as they react to common substances used at home or at work. With proper management after diagnosis in early stages, the disease may last for a short time. . Some people may have restrictions in their daily activities at home and at work because of severe irritant contact dermatitis.
Seborrheic eczema: This type of eczema tends to be a life-long condition which is controlled by treatment in most people. However, many people continue to experience repeated episodes of flare-ups after extended inactive periods. It is unlikely that with treatment you may have any permanent resolution of the disease. The symptoms may improve in the summer, especially after outdoor activities.
Discoid eczema: People with discoid eczema also tend to have chronic and recurrent form of the disease. They may experience repeated episodes of flare-up after extended inactive.