Note the location of your dry, sensitive skin
You can get dry, irritated, and sensitive skin from many skin conditions, or from a reaction to detergents or fragrances. (And here’s the best way to moisturize when you’re in the shower.) To figure out if you might have eczema, note where the irritation is located on your body, says dermatologist Jeffrey S. Fromowitz, MD, managing partner and medical director at Dermatology of Boca. “Eczema or atopic dermatitis tends to favor flexural areas—the fold of the arms, the fold of the wrist, the fold of the neck, and the folds behind the knee,” he says. “That’s where eczema tends to be most prominent and is a fairly clear indication that it’s not just an irritation from fabric or perfume, which tend to be spread across the body.”
Do you have an “itch that rashes?”
Intense itching is another common symptom of eczema—but that could also be an allergic reaction or irritation from a new beauty product. So, how do you know the difference? “Again, it’s important to note the location of the intense itch like the severely dry and sensitive skin,” says Dr. Fromowitz. “The biggest indicator is whether the itch develops before or after the presence of a physical rash.” Eczema is known as the rash that itches, because you will likely get intense itch that precedes the development of a rash. With contact dermatitis, or other forms of rashes, it is often the opposite: The rash appears before you get itchy.