Could those itchy, scaly patches be eczema on your arms? Discover the symptoms of this skin condition and how to treat it so your skin can feel better.

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Eczema On Arms: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatments

11/28/20238 min read

When you have eczema on your arms, it can be hard to roll up your sleeves and get things done. The itchy, red rash can make it difficult to concentrate on anything else.

Fortunately, you can take steps to manage your symptoms and find relief. To help you rewrite the story of your skin, let’s explore the common causes of eczema and discuss some effective treatment options.

Table Of Contents

What Is Eczema?

Woman with eczema on her arms

Eczema is the name for a group of chronic skin conditions that affect millions of people worldwide. Symptoms often begin in childhood. In fact, up to 25% of children develop eczema at some point, and most get the diagnosis during their first year of life.

While there are several types of eczema, the most common is atopic dermatitis. It’s characterized by dry, red, and itchy skin that can develop anywhere on your body, including your arms.

Where On Your Arms Can Eczema Develop?

You’ll most often notice eczema on your arm’s skin folds. It’s commonly found on the inside of the elbow and the wrist. However, this condition can pop up anywhere on your arms, including the shoulder, hands, and fingers.

Each person’s experience with eczema is unique. Your symptoms could be limited to only one side of your body or one section of your arms. Conversely, you could develop widespread eczema that affects both arms or multiple places on your body at once.

Symptoms Of Eczema On Arms

Now that you know what eczema is, let’s look at the symptoms to help you determine if what’s on your arms is eczema or something else.

  • Itchiness: A near-constant itch is a common sign of eczema. The urge to scratch can be overwhelming, especially at night.
  • Dryness: Eczema often causes your skin to become excessively dry. As a result, your skin might feel rough and flaky.
  • Discoloration: The affected area often appears discolored compared to the surrounding skin. It may be red, dark brown, purple, or gray.
  • Swelling: The skin around your eczema patches can become swollen, especially if you’ve scratched a lot.
  • Crusting: Scratching an area can break the skin. Eventually, the cracks may crust over or ooze.

In addition to the physical symptoms, eczema can also take an emotional toll. Living with constant itching and discomfort can be stressful and frustrating.

You may also feel self-conscious about the appearance of your skin and always want to wear long-sleeved shirts to hide your eczema patches.

Causes Of Eczema On Arms

Woman scratching eczema patches on her arm

If you’re experiencing some (or all) of the symptoms listed above, you may wonder what’s causing your eczema. Unfortunately, there isn’t a straightforward answer to that question. Experts believe that multiple factors play a role in the development of eczema.

Let’s look at the likely culprits more closely.


Some people may have a genetic predisposition to eczema. If someone else in your family has it, you’re more likely to develop eczema as well.

However, genetics alone can’t explain why some people with this predisposition go on to develop eczema while others do not. Other triggers are likely necessary.

The Environment

Environmental factors can also contribute to the development of eczema. For example, dry weather often exacerbates symptoms by drying out the skin even further. Similarly, excessive heat or cold can irritate eczema-prone skin and cause a flare-up.

In addition, exposure to allergens or irritants can trigger eczema symptoms. These may include:

  • Chemicals in personal care products, such as parabens
  • Pollen
  • Pet dander
  • Household cleaning products like detergents or bleach
  • Certain fabrics, including wool and polyester
  • Dietary choices, such as dairy or gluten

If you’ve noticed that your eczema flare-ups coincide with exposure to specific materials, foods, or environmental conditions, you’ve likely identified at least one of your triggers.

Taking steps to avoid these things can help reduce the frequency and severity of your symptoms.

Your Mental Health

The connection between your brain and your body is strong. Stress, anxiety, and other mental health conditions cause your body to release hormones that can weaken your skin’s natural barrier. This makes you more susceptible to eczema flare-ups.

It’s important to note that eczema can also trigger mental health symptoms. The constant itching, discomfort, and embarrassment can lead to anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

This creates a vicious cycle in which your mental health worsens, and in turn, your eczema becomes more severe. That’s why it’s essential to address both your physical and emotional well-being when managing eczema.

How To Treat Eczema On Arms

Woman applying moisturizer to eczema patches

With so many potential triggers, treating eczema on your arms may seem daunting. However, there are a few proven strategies you can use to reduce symptoms and promote healing.

Use Moisturizer

Dry skin and eczema go hand-in-hand, so keeping your skin moisturized can help soothe the itchiness. Instead of a thin lotion, opt for a thick cream or ointment that will provide deep hydration. Eczema Daily Calming Cream is a great choice that won’t leave you feeling greasy.

Apply moisturizer immediately after bathing while your skin is still damp. This will help lock in moisture and prevent you from feeling dry throughout the day. Then, reapply as needed to keep your skin hydrated.

For moisturizing away from home, try Eczema Daily Calming Cream On-the-Go. Each 2-ounce bottle is the perfect size for your purse or car, so you always have relief on hand.

Be Skin Smart In The Shower

When your skin is dry, a long soak in a hot bath might sound delightful. However, this plan would backfire. The heat of the water strips your skin of its natural oils and leaves you feeling drier than ever.

Instead, use warm (not hot) water, and keep an eye on the clock. Try to limit your tub time to only 10 minutes. Any longer and you risk damaging your skin’s natural barrier and making your symptoms worse.

While you’re bathing, opt for gentle cleansers. Avoid soaps and body wash with harsh chemicals or dyes, and choose formulas with botanical ingredients to harness the power of nature.

Apply your soap carefully, without scrubbing. The goal is to get clean without aggravating your skin. When finished, rinse off carefully. Then, pat yourself dry with a soft towel and apply moisturizer while you’re still damp, as we discussed above.

Protect Your Arms From The Weather

Woman looking at the ocean

Exposure to harsh weather conditions can make your eczema worse. It’s crucial to protect your arms — and the rest of your body — from the elements. Sunscreen is a must, even on cloudy days, since harmful UV rays can penetrate the clouds.

Pick a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Make sure it’s free of irritating ingredients. Then, implement this into your daily skincare routine.

Other ways to protect your arms include wearing layers you can remove if you get too warm and keeping your skin covered with long sleeves.

Choose Your Clothes Carefully

While long sleeves can help protect your arms from the elements, you don’t want to put on a scratchy wool sweater. Wool tends to be an irritating fabric, which can trigger your symptoms.

To avoid this, choose clothes made from naturally smooth fabrics, like cotton or silk. These materials are less likely to irritate your skin. They also allow your skin to breathe, which can help prevent flare-ups.

Prioritize Self-Care

No matter how many eczema patches you have on your body, this condition does not define you. You are more than your skin.

Since your beliefs and feelings impact your eczema, you must consider your mental well-being. Take time every day to do something relaxing. This could be anything from meditating to listening to music. Whatever helps you unwind and de-stress, make time for it regularly.

Avoid Your Triggers

If you’ve discovered what triggers your eczema, try to avoid those things as much as possible. This could mean:

  • Swapping out your cleaning products for gentler alternatives
  • Avoiding certain fabrics that irritate your skin
  • Limiting exposure to extreme weather conditions
  • Running a humidifier in your bedroom
  • Changing your diet to avoid processed foods
  • Wearing long gloves if you must handle chemicals

Of course, depending on your personal triggers, you may need to add more items to the list. It may take some trial and error, but it’s worth it.

Soothe Eczema Symptoms With Bodewell

Woman happy with clear skin

By taking a multi-faceted approach, you can manage eczema on your arms more effectively. A combination of self-care, avoiding triggers, and using the right skincare products can make a big difference in your eczema journey.

At Bodewell, we understand the struggle of living with this chronic skin condition and want to help you have better skin days.

So pick up a bottle of our Eczema Daily Calming Cream and keep some Eczema Daily Calming Cream On-the-Go for deep moisturizing, no matter where life takes you. Smoother skin awaits!


American Academy of Dermatology Association
International Eczema Council

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