Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that appears as red, scaly, and inflamed bumps and patches that come and go. These rashes sometimes ooze with fluid and crust especially in earlier acute stages. In later stages, the rashes may become leathery and scaly. A predominant symptom of eczema is the intense itch that comes with the rash. Eczema is also associated with dry skin and even in the absence of rashes, patients find that they need to moisturize and put in more effort in taking care of their skin.

In babies, rashes typically appear on the face and scalp however in older children and adults, rashes are more commonly found in areas where the skin folds or creases as in the neck, back of knees, inside part of elbows, ankles, and wrists.

Eczema is associated with other "atopic" conditions wherein patients have an inherited allergic tendency like asthma and allergic rhinitis. Patients commonly have family members with the same kind of skin rash, asthma and/or allergic rhinitis.

Eczema is not infectious and is not caused by bacteria, fungi or viruses. Skin with eczema however is more prone to skin infections because there is an existing break in the skin that makes it easier for organisms to enter.

There is no cure for eczema. Like asthma, it is a recurrent condition. However, there are many ways to lessen and manage flare ups.

People may confuse fungal skin infections with eczema because they can also appear as red, inflamed, and itchy rashes. It is therefore important to consult a doctor or a dermatologist who can make an accurate diagnosis and give an appropriate treatment. Here are some differences between fungal skin infections and eczema:

1. A fungal skin infection is caused by fungi. It is treated therefore, with either a topical or oral antifungal which eliminates fungi leading to a cure.

2. Being a form of infection, ringworm may be transmitted via direct contact or sharing contaminated personal items. It is not inherited.

3. Fungi like warm, moist places so areas in the body that provide this environment are typical areas where fungal infections are found like the sweaty feet. Keep skin dry and cool to keep fungal skin infections away.

Lastly, if you're unsure about a rash, it's always good to seek medical advice and avoid self-medication so you don't waste time and money on treatments that don't work.

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