Eczema Coping Tips Reducing Skin Irritation
People with eczema have sensitive skin. Irritants such as heat or detergents can easily trigger a bout of eczema.Suggestions for reducing skin irritation include:
- Avoid overheating your skin. Wear several layers of clothing that you can remove, as required, instead of one heavy layer. Dont put too many blankets on your bed and avoid doonas.
- Dont use perfumed bubble bath or bath products labelled medicated.
- Wear soft, smooth materials next to your skin, preferably 100% cotton. Avoid scratchy materials, such as pure wool, polyester or acrylic. You could try a cotton and synthetic mix material this is fine for some people with eczema. Remove labels from clothing.
- Always wear protective gloves when using any type of chemical or detergent. You may want to wear cotton gloves inside rubber or PVC gloves.
- Avoid chlorinated pools. If you have to swim in a chlorinated pool, moisturise your skin well when you get out.
Change Up Your Skincare Routine
Given that we tend to pay more attention to our facial skincare routines than we do our body, if you have eczema only on your face then its time to look at the products on your shelf.
Whether youre following a 10-step routine or keeping things minimal, choose every product carefully. With facial eczema, your skin barrier is compromised and struggling to hold onto moisture so you need a routine thats especially designed for sensitive, eczema-prone skin.
Avoid harsh, irritating ingredients such as fragrances, MI, exfoliants, and synthetic foaming agents like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate . Instead, look for fragrance-free formulas with ingredients that help to keep moisture locked in.
Thicker creams with calming ingredients such as Chamomile and Rosehip will help to soothe the itch and redness while moisturising dry skin and you may find a few drops of Omega-rich Rosehip Oil will help to soften and relieve sore patches. Scan your INCI lists for skin-strengthening Ceramides the glue that holds your skin together, they reinforce your skin barrier to build up resilience and ease irritation. Rinse-off products matter, too choose a hydrating cleanser that wont strip the skin of its natural oils, and pat dry never rub.
How To Use Topical Corticosteroids
When using corticosteroids, apply the treatment accurately to the affected areas. Unless instructed otherwise by your doctor, you should follow directions on the patient information leaflet that comes with the corticosteroid.
Do not apply the corticosteroid more than twice a day. Most people will only have to apply it once a day.
To apply the topical corticosteroid, take the following steps:
- apply your emollient first and ideally wait around 30 minutes before applying the topical corticosteroid, until the emollient has soaked into your skin
- apply a good amount of the topical corticosteroid to the affected area
- use the topical corticosteroid until the inflammation has cleared up, unless otherwise advised by your GP
Speak to your prescriber if you have been using a topical corticosteroid and your symptoms have not improved.
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Eczema And Atopic Dermatitis Treatment
Your doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid cream or ointment to apply to your rash. This will help reduce itching and calm inflammation. Use it right after bathing. Follow your doctors directions for using this medicine or check the label for proper use. Call your doctor if your skin does not get better with regular use of the medicine.
Antihistamines like hydroxyzine reduce itching. They can help make it easier to not scratch. A new class of drugs, called immunomodulators, works well if you have a severe rash. Two drugs in this class are tacrolimus and pimecrolimus. These drugs keep your immune system from overreacting when stimulated by an allergen. However, they can affect your immune system. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that these drugs be used only when other treatments dont work.
Try not to scratch the irritated area on your skin, even if it itches. Scratching can break the skin. Bacteria can enter these breaks and cause infection. Moisturizing your skin will help prevent itchiness.
Steroid Creams And Ointments
Topical steroids work by reducing inflammation in the skin. Topical steroids are grouped into four categories depending on their strength mild, moderately potent, potent and very potent. There are various brands and types in each category. For example, hydrocortisone cream 1% is a commonly used steroid cream and is classed as a mild topical steroid. The greater the strength , the more effect it has on reducing inflammation but the greater the risk of side-effects with continued use.
Creams are usually best to treat moist or weeping areas of skin. Ointments are usually best to treat areas of skin which are dry or thickened. Lotions may be useful to treat hairy areas such as the scalp.
As a rule, a course of topical steroid is used when one or more patches of eczema flare up. You should use topical steroids until the flare-up has completely gone and then stop them. In many cases, a course of treatment for 7-14 days is enough to clear a flare-up of eczema. In some cases, a longer course is needed. Many people with atopic eczema require a course of topical steroids every now and then to clear a flare-up. The frequency of flare-ups and the number of times a course of topical steroids is needed can vary greatly from person to person.
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Investigate The Products You Are Using
But if you cant think of anything new that could be causing your symptoms, then it might help to stop using one product at a time, to see if you can identify the cause. Some product manufacturers change their formulations, meaning that you could suddenly become allergic or sensitive to a product youve used for many years.
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What Cures Eczema Fast
Unfortunately there is no quick cure for eczema. In fact, there is no known cure for this condition! Luckily there are some treatment options which can help you manage symptoms and some might be able to minimize symptoms quickly. To find the best treatment for you, talk with a dermatologist or qualified medical professional.
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What Questions Might My Healthcare Provider Ask To Diagnose Eczema
The conversation with your healthcare provider will need to cover a lot of information. Be sure to be specific about your symptoms.
- Where is your eczema located?
- What have you used to try to treat your eczema?
- What medical conditions do you have? Allergies? Asthma?
- Is there a history of eczema in your family?
- How long have you had symptoms of eczema?
- Do you take hot showers?
- Is there anything that makes your symptoms worse?
- Have you noticed that something triggers or worsens your eczema? Soaps? Detergents? Cigarette smoke?
- Is there so much itchiness that you have trouble sleeping? Working? Living your normal life?
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Should I Treat Facial Eczema Differently Than I Would Eczema On My Body
Yes. Both Sejal Shah, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, and Dr. Sadick recommend using milder products on your face because the skin is thinner and more sensitive than the skin on your body. “I would use eczema skin-care products designed for face and body respectively as they contain different concentrations of active ingredients,” says Dr. Sadick.
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What Triggers Eczema On The Face
One of the most common types of skin conditions that causes eczema on the face is atopic dermatitis, often plainly referred to as eczema.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association , a number of different factors may cause that type of eczema, such as:
- Family history of eczema
- Environmental factors, like stress, pollution, and tobacco smoke
Some people who come into contact with irritants, like allergens, can trigger facial eczema. And often, that’s because of a weak skin barrier.
Typically, your skin acts as a barrier, protecting you from irritants, like allergies and bacteria. However, per the National Eczema Association, about 30% of people who have eczema have genetic mutations that cause their skin to have less moisture and small breaks in their skin barrier.
Basically, something triggers the immune system, resulting in the skin’s protective barrier becoming dry and sensitive. Those triggers include allergens , household products , changes in weather, or stress.
When it comes to facial eczema, for example, a few key ingredients in skincare and makeup products could trigger a flare-up.
Other people with eczema may lack ceramides, substances that help trap water in the skin. Eczema that causes dry skin may be due to a lack of hydration that ceramides provide, explained said Amanda Doyle, MD, a dermatologist at the Russak Dermatology Clinic in New York.
Per the Johns Hopkins Medicine Library, the tell-tale symptoms of eczema include:
Symptoms Of Atopic Eczema
Atopic eczema causes the skin to become itchy, dry, cracked and sore.
Some people only have small patches of dry skin, but others may experience widespread inflamed skin all over the body.
Inflamed skin can become red on lighter skin, and darker brown, purple or grey on darker skin. This can also be more difficult to see on darker skin.
Although atopic eczema can affect any part of the body, it most often affects the hands, insides of the elbows, backs of the knees and the face and scalp in children.
People with atopic eczema usually have periods when symptoms are less noticeable, as well as periods when symptoms become more severe .
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Diagnosing Eczema On The Face And Neck Can Sometimes Be Difficult
If the face and neck are the first places a person ever gets a patch of eczema and there are no other areas of involvement, diagnosis may be challenging, says Wan. A persons age and the eczema pattern may provide some clues.
For example, young children are known to often have facial involvement of eczema, and sometimes it just starts on the cheeks with weepy or dry eczema patches, and it may be limited there, says Wan.
The challenge in adults is differentiating between eczema and a rash caused by an allergen or irritant. Trying to distinguish if theres some sort of external trigger is really critical in situations like that, Wan says.
More than 15,000 substances can cause an allergic skin reaction, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. A dermatologist might perform something called a patch test to determine whether contact dermatitis is responsible for a rash on your face or neck.
Two things to keep in mind in this situation: First, some allergens can cause a delayed reaction so your rash may be due to something that touched your skin a while ago. Second, its possible to develop an allergic reaction to a product youve used for years, so dont rule those things out.
What Does Eczema Look Like
In babies with paler skin, when eczema is flaring the skin is red and itchy. In babies with darker skin, the irritated, itchy areas may be red but are more likely to show as darker patches. They may also appear paler around the front or back of knees or elbows.
When an area of darker skin is treated for eczema, it may become lighter and may take several months to return to the babys normal skin tone.
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What Causes Eczema To Start
The first signs of eczema are itchiness, dry skin and a rash. These signs indicate that you came into contact with a trigger in your environment that caused your symptoms to start or flare up. Identifying environmental triggers and avoiding them can reduce your risk of an eczema flare-up in your future.
When Adults Get It
You might notice itchy patches on the hands, elbows, and in the “bending” areas of the body, such as the inside of the elbows and back of the knees. But eczema can appear anywhere, including the neck, chest, and eyelids. People who had atopic dermatitis as a child may see drier, scaly rashes as adults. The skin may be discolored or thickened.
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What Should I Do If Over
Sadly, sometimes eczema on the face can prove extremely stubborn to the point where treatment may need to be prescribed by a doctor. “If home treatments are not helping, you may need prescription medications,” says Dr. Shah. “I usually prescribe either a topical steroid or a topical calcineurin inhibitor, a non-steroidal medication that can reduce inflammation and treat eczema.”
Dr. Shah says she sometimes prescribes special moisturizers called barrier repair creams for patients. And if the eczema is severe and not responding to topical treatments, other options include , aka light therapy. There’s a wide range of treatment options for facial eczema, so it often comes down to trial and error in order to figure out what works for you. We’d recommend always consulting your dermatologist before trying anything new.
Read more about caring for skin conditions:
When To Seek Medical Advice
See a GP if you have symptoms of atopic eczema. They’ll usually be able to diagnose atopic eczema by looking at your skin and asking questions, such as:
- whether the rash is itchy and where it appears
- when the symptoms first began
- whether it comes and goes over time
- whether there’s a history of atopic eczema in your family
- whether you have any other conditions, such as allergies or asthma
- whether something in your diet or lifestyle may be contributing to your symptoms
Typically, to be diagnosed with atopic eczema you should have had an itchy skin condition in the last 12 months and 3 or more of the following:
- visibly irritated red skin in the creases of your skin such as the insides of your elbows or behind your knees at the time of examination by a health professional
- a history of skin irritation occurring in the same areas mentioned above
- generally dry skin in the last 12 months
- a history of asthma or hay fever children under 4 must have an immediate relative, such as a parent, brother or sister, who has 1 of these conditions
- the condition started before the age of 2
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Wear Gloves To Protect The Skin On Your Hands
Wear vinyl or plastic gloves for work that requires you to have your hands in water. Also, wear gloves when your hands are exposed to anything that can irritate your skin. Wear cotton gloves under plastic gloves to soak up sweat from your hands. Take occasional breaks and remove your gloves. This will prevent a buildup of sweat inside your gloves.
Wear gloves when you go outside during the winter. Cold air and low humidity can dry your skin. Dryness can make your eczema worse. Wear clothes made of cotton or a cotton blend. Wool and some synthetic fabrics can irritate your skin.
Skin Care For Facial Eczema
Moisturize. The best way to keep your skin from drying out is with thick creams and ointments , not with thinner lotions. The best time to do this is right after you wash your face. If ointments are too greasy for your face, try using them only at night.
Clean gently. Soap can irritate your skin, but washing with water alone may not be enough, especially if your face is oily. Use a gentle non-soap cleanser or a medical emollient instead. Pat dry with a soft towel.
Watch the temperature. Use only cool — not hot — water on your face, and for as little time as possible.
Skip makeup.Donât use cosmetics on irritated skin.
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Signs Of An Infection
Occasionally, areas of skin affected by atopic eczema can become infected. Signs of an infection can include:
- your eczema getting a lot worse
- fluid oozing from the skin
- a yellow crust on the skin surface or small yellowish-white spots appearing in the eczema
- the skin becoming swollen and sore
- feeling hot and shivery and generally feeling unwell
See a doctor as soon as possible if you think your or your child’s skin may have become infected.
Page last reviewed: 05 December 2019 Next review due: 05 December 2022
Is There A Cure For Eczema
There is no cure for eczema, but there are treatments. Every treatment plan should be tailored to your individual eczema symptoms. Depending on your age and the severity of your eczema, these treatments might include: medical grade moisturizing creams, prescription topical medications including topical corticosteroids, over-the-counter home remedies, phototherapy , immunosuppressants and injectable biologics.
Many people with eczema also find success with specific natural and alternative treatments, including bleach baths, cryotherapy, medical-grade honey, meditation and acupuncture. With these natural and alternative treatments, you want to be careful and also consult a healthcare professional before starting. Some natural treatments, like meditation, work amazingly with over-the-counter or prescription medications or ointments.
For most types of eczema, managing flares comes down to these basics:
- Know your triggers so that you can avoid exposure
- Implement a daily bathing and moisturizing routine
- Use OTC creams and prescription medication consistently and as prescribed.
Symptoms may be different from one child to the next. More often than not, eczema goes away as a child grows older, though some children will continue to experience eczema into adulthood. Adults can develop eczema, too, even if they never had it as a child. Read more for additional information about managing itch.
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