Diagnosis of Eczema

Normally your GP will be able to diagnose atopic eczema by examining  your skin and asking detailed questions about your symptoms and family medical history.

Your GP will need to know:

  • Is there  a history of atopic eczema in your family
  • Whether  you have a rash, is itchy and where it appears

  • Do you also suffer with any other allergies or asthma

  • When the symptoms first began

  • Whether the symptoms come and go

Typically, to be diagnosed with atopic eczema your GP will be looking to establish if you  have had itchy skin in the last 12 months and probably at least  three or more of the following:

  • Irritated red skin in the creases of your skin, such as the insides of your elbows or behind your knees (or on the cheeks, outsides of elbows, or fronts of the knees in children aged 18 months or under) at the time of examination by a health professional
  • A history of asthma or hay fever (children under four must have an immediate relative, such as a parent, brother or sister, who has one of these conditions)

  • A history of skin irritation occurring in the same areas mentioned above

  • Generally dry skin in the last 12 months

Your GP should work with you to establish if any triggers make your eczema worse. 

In order to establish if there are any particular triggers that make your eczema worse your GP may ask about your diet and lifestyle to see if something obvious may be contributing to your symptoms. For example, you may have noticed some soaps or shampoos make the eczema worse.

You may also be asked to keep a food diary to try to determine whether a specific food makes your symptoms worse.

Allergy tests are sometimes helpful in identifying any  food allergies that may be triggering symptoms in young children or in those where a food allergy is suspected.

You should tell your GP if your condition is affecting your quality of life – for example, if you have difficulty sleeping because of itching, or your eczema limits your everyday activities.