Q: Eczema is common among all races, but some groups are more at risk. What are some of the unique signs and symptoms of eczema (atopic dermatitis) to watch for among people of color? 

Weily Soong, MD: One of the interesting things about atopic dermatitis or eczema is that it presents quite differently in people, especially those with different skin tones.

As an allergist, what I normally look for is the redness of your skin (known as erythema), bumpiness on your skin (known as papules), how much scratching you’re doing (known as excoriation) and how tough your skin is (called lichenification).

Some people with eczema may not see any redness at all, especially if you have a darker skin tone.

For other people, atopic dermatitis may present as bumpier with a lot more papules. Those also tend to be present differently, especially in the darker skin tone colors.

When there’s a lot of itchiness and scratching, some people see little red dots. But people with darker skin tones may not see these red dots, or they may actually be even darker, like hyperpigmented dots.

For some people with eczema, the skin is so thick and leathery, it almost feels like the skin of an alligator – really tough.

Weily Soong, MD, is a board-certified allergist with Alabama Allergy & Asthma Center and Medical Director of the Clinical Research Center of Alabama. Dr. Soong is also a member with the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).


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