What are the three eczema healing stages, and how do you treat each one? Read more to understand what your skin is going through and what you can do about it.

right mark

Copied to Clipboard

wrong mark

Eczema Healing Stages: What You Need To Know

08/13/20228 min read

Did you know there are different eczema healing stages? If you suffer from eczema, you’ve probably experienced how uncomfortable and painful the irritation can be.

In this article, we’ll cover the stages, symptoms, and causes of eczema, as well as what your treatment options are so you can get back to better skin days.

Eczema Healing Stages

Atopic dermatitis — known more commonly as eczema — is a skin condition that causes red, dry, and itchy, and irritated skin.

It’s triggered by environmental factors, genetic factors, or a combination of the two. For example, eczema-prone skin can become inflamed or irritated from things like surface contact, allergens, or medications.

While not contagious, this irritation can spread or get worse the more you scratch it. But whether you scratch it or not, after developing eczema, you may go through three stages of healing. These stages aren’t always linear, and you might not see every stage during each flare-up.

Additionally, the stages all have slightly different symptoms and tips for treatment. Let’s take a look at each of these eczema healing stages below and some ways to soothe your skin.

1) Acute Eczema

The acute stage of eczema refers to a rash that is just starting to appear. This stage usually starts with itching before you even see any visible signs of inflammation on your skin.

Here are some other symptoms to look out for at this stage.

Symptoms Of Acute Eczema

  • Itching
  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Fluid-filled blisters
  • Redness or skin discoloration
  • Small bumps

Causes Of Acute Eczema

Triggers for an acute eczema flare-up can range from irritating clothing to animal dander and food allergies. It can be hard to pin down exactly what is causing your own irritation since everyone’s immune system is different and has unique reactions to the environment.

Man itching his arm

Treatment Options

Even if you don’t know the exact cause, there are many options to treat the acute stage of eczema and heal your inflammation. Using a cold compress or cool, wet towel can help relieve the intense itching and irritation when you are tempted to scratch at your skin.

Also, taking an oatmeal bath is a tried and true at-home remedy for eczema, as the soothing components in oats help moisturize and protect the skin barrier.

Another option is using steroids, either topically in the form of a cream or ointment or orally in the form of pills. However, there are some health risks to using steroids long-term, so consult your doctor or pharmacist about the frequency and duration of use.

You can also try skincare products designed to soothe eczema. Our Eczema Daily Calming Cream contains the power of colloidal oatmeal and a unique formula with a blend of botanicals that moisturize your skin to help it heal itself.

When you are suffering from acute eczema, It is also important to avoid harsh laundry detergents, cleansers, and anything else that comes into contact with your skin.

A great solution for shower time is our Sensitive Skin Moisturizing Body Wash. When your skin is extremely tender and itchy, this cleanser will gently clean, soften, and moisturize.

2) Subacute Eczema

Child with the second eczema healing stage

The second stage that you will likely experience during an eczema flare-up is subacute eczema. (However, as we noted above, you may skip right over acute eczema and start at this stage instead.)

Symptoms Of Subacute Eczema

  • Flaky or scaly skin
  • Cracked skin
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Stinging
  • Redness or skin discoloration (usually less intense than the acute stage)

As painful and uncomfortable as the burning and stinging of this stage of eczema are, they also signal that healing is happening. And your symptoms are often less intense and painful than what you may experience during the acute stage.

Although the usual progression of eczema is from acute to subacute, sometimes your flare-up will revert back to symptoms from the acute stage as it heals.

In addition, some cases of eczema will heal from the subacute stage without ever entering the chronic stage we’ll discuss below. But it’s important to note that if the subacute stage lasts for a long time, it is likely to progress to the next stage.

Treating Subacute Eczema

What can you do to treat subacute eczema? Topical treatments, like our Eczema Daily Calming Cream, are usually the first line of defense to moisturize flaky and cracked sin.

Moisture is extremely important at this stage of healing, as the skin barrier is compromised and more susceptible to infections. If irritating chemicals or particles get into the sensitive areas of your skin, your symptoms and inflammation can greatly worsen.

Some people also find that antihistamine products can help reduce the itching associated with eczema.

Experiment with different combinations of treatments and speak with your healthcare provider to discover the treatment right for you.

3) Chronic Eczema

Now that we’ve looked at the first two stages, let’s take a look at the final eczema healing stage. This stage appears in longer-lasting flare-ups when your eczema does not heal after the subacute stage.

There is no set time frame for when it begins or how long it lasts. So, you may experience these symptoms for many months or even years as your immune system combats your triggers.

Man with the third eczema healing stage

Symptoms Of Chronic Eczema

  • Cracks or fissures in the skin
  • Deep lines in the skin
  • Dark or dull skin discoloration
  • Excoriations, or skin breakdown areas
  • Itching
  • Thick or leathery skin
  • Lichenification or neurodermatitis

More intense care is needed at this stage, as the symptoms can be quite severe and are caused by prolonged scratching of the skin surface as it tries to heal.

Treatment Options For Chronic Eczema

Preventing itchin is the most important part of treating chronic eczema because repeated friction and irritation are what usually prevent eczema from healing completely.

If your eczema reaches this stage, you might need to more seriously consider what lifestyle changes you can make to avoid allergens and triggers that may be contributing to your flare-up.

For example, what you eat is often a trigger for eczema. An elimination diet may help you learn what you need to avoid in order for your immune system to thrive. Another common trigger is pet dander, so wash sheets and clothes and vacuum often.

In addition, being vigilant about the laundry detergents and bath products you use can help your skin heal faster. Avoiding irritating fabrics and fibers, such as wool, will also reduce irritation.

If avoiding irritants isn’t enough to keep your symptoms at bay, you may want to consider talking to your healthcare provider to discuss other treatment options. It’s also important to moisturize your eczema-prone skin. Ask your doctor about adding a moisturizer to the treatment they recommend.

Applying a gentle moisturizer, like our Eczema Daily Calming Cream, can help lock in hydration, promote healing, and prevent further skin irritation.

Woman with relief from eczema symptoms

Staying Positive Throughout The Eczema Healing Stages

Now that you know everything you need to know about the eczema healing stages, you can treat your symptoms and avoid triggers that worsen flare-ups.

Understanding the progression this skin condition takes is important for finding the right healing methods for you.

While there are several ways to treat eczema, oftentimes the best way to get relief is simply by using the correct moisturizer that will help your skin heal itself and protect it from exposure to irritants. The Bodewell line of eczema treatments is the perfect way to relieve irritation and itch.

No matter which stage your eczema is in, be patient with your body as it rebuilds and replenishes your skin barrier. With the right care, you’ll be back to better skin days in no time!


Mayo Clinic
National Eczema Association
National Library of Medicine

Shop Bodewell