Are your elbows itchy and uncomfortable? It could be eczema. In this article, we’ll cover the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for eczema on elbows.

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Eczema On Elbows: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatments

11/22/20238 min read

No one wants itchy, scaly skin on their elbows — it’s not only uncomfortable but can also make you feel self-conscious. Eczema on your elbows might be what’s at the root of your discomfort.

In this article, we’ll tell you the symptoms of eczema on elbows and what causes it. We’ll also suggest treatment options to help your skin feel better in no time.

Table Of Contents

What Is Eczema On Elbows?

Eczema on elbows is otherwise known as flexural eczema. That means it’s the type of eczema that occurs in the folds of your skin — namely at your elbows and knees. It’s often found on the inside of elbows but can be found on the outside as well.

Eczema, a skin condition affecting 30% of the US population, can occur at any age, although it’s very common among children. Some children grow out of it, but for others, it turns into a chronic condition that must be managed their whole life.

Types Of Eczema

Several different types of eczema could be affecting your elbows. Let’s review them.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic Dermatitis is the most common type of eczema. This is a chronic condition that can flare up throughout your life.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a type of eczema caused by environmental triggers.

Neurodermatitis

Neurodermatitis is a type of eczema that begins with an itch, which, when scratched, just gets worse.

One note to keep in mind: Guttate psoriasis can also look like eczema on elbows. This is triggered most of the time by the streptococcal infection and results in round, scaly skin lesions that itch.

Scaly patches caused by psoriasis tend to be more defined than eczema. It’s a good idea to consult your doctor and confirm what’s causing your discomfort so you can find the most effective treatment.

Symptoms Of Eczema On Elbows

Woman suffering from eczema on elbows

If you’re wondering if eczema is causing your discomfort, here are a few symptoms to look out for:

  • Dry patches
  • Flakey skin
  • Scaly skin
  • Itchy skin
  • Bumpy skin

Depending on your skin color, the eczema-affected skin will appear differently. If you have fair skin, your elbows may be red, whereas if you have darker skin, the affected area may appear gray, brown, or purplish.

Causes Of Eczema On Elbows

Although doctors don’t know what specifically causes eczema, most believe the condition is due to a combination of genetics and environmental factors.

Genetics

If your parents suffer from eczema, it’s more likely that you will too. Some doctors believe that people with eczema have a mutation in the gene responsible for creating a protein called filaggrin. Filaggrin helps to maintain your skin barrier.

Environmental Triggers

Even though they may not be causes per se, there are several things that can trigger an eczema flare-up if you have the condition. Let’s take a look.

Irritants

Irritants like household cleaners, makeup, soaps (especially those with fragrances), and some perfumes are common examples of products that can trigger an eczema flare-up.

Allergens

Allergic reactions to common allergens like pet dander, pollen, cosmetics, or cleaners can also trigger a flare-up.

Stress

Stress is another thing that can cause eczema on elbows. When you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol. This results in the suppression of your immune system and an increase in inflammation, worsening eczema.

Weather

Excessively hot, cold, or dry weather can cause your skin to react as well.

Treatments For Eczema On Elbows

Now that we know what eczema is and what can cause it, it’s time for treatments. Unfortunately, there is no cure for eczema, but with a few tweaks to your routine, you can help your skin feel much better.

To treat eczema, the best approach is a combination of protecting your skin barrier, avoiding triggers, and adopting healthy habits that will decrease the likelihood of flare-ups.

Moisturize

Smiling woman treating her eczema on elbow with moisturizer

The first thing you want to do is get a good moisturizer. Make sure it’s fragrance-free, as fragrances can be irritating to your skin. Use your moisturizer at least twice a day, in the morning and the evening before bed.

You’ll want your moisturizer to be extra hydrating, so look for ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, oat or shea butter, aloe, glycerin, vitamin E, or niacinamide.

Bodewell Daily Calming Cream is packed with moisturizing ingredients and has been formulated specifically for eczema-prone skin.

Try A Cold Compress

If you’re feeling itchy from your eczema, reach for the fridge. A cold compress can help manage the itch. If you don’t have one, just wet a washcloth with cold water, wring it out, and hold it against your itchy skin.

Avoid Irritants

This may go without saying, but in order to treat the eczema on your elbows, you’ll want to stay away from anything that might be irritating your skin.

Eat Healthily

Eating healthily is always a good idea, but it’s even more important for those with eczema. Make sure you’re filling your plate with fatty fish, nuts, fresh fruits and veggies, and whole grains. Steer clear of processed foods, alcohol, and sugary drinks.

Destress

Getting rid of stress is good for your whole body, and it’s essential if you want to treat your eczema. There are lots of strategies to help your body relax. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Exercising

Woman and man jogging outside

Exercising is a great stress reliever — whether hiking or running, taking a class at the gym, or playing a game of pickleball. However, keep in mind that sweat can further irritate your skin, so it’s important to take a shower after working out if you can.

Meditation And Breathwork

In addition to exercise, meditation while focusing on your breathing has been noted to reduce stress.

Journaling

Another thing you can do to cut down on stress is to write in a journal. Sometimes you just have to let out your thoughts and feelings in order to relax.

Talking To A Professional

Therapy can be another good option for managing your stress levels. Also, a professional can suggest even more strategies to try.

Update Your Bathing Routine

Woman enjoying a nice bath

Yet another good way to treat eczema on your elbows is by updating your bathing routine. First, you want to look at the temperature of your shower or bath. Water should always be tepid or warm, and never hot. Hot water can irritate your skin barrier and make your eczema worse.

Since we’re talking about baths, it’s a good time to mention that a colloidal oatmeal bath might be something to try. Colloidal oatmeal is known to be extra soothing for eczema-prone skin.

Also, keep in mind that the duration of your shower or bath matters. Stick to 10 minutes. Longer baths and showers tend to dry out your skin.

After you’re clean, use a soft towel to gently pat yourself dry. Never rub your skin. Then, go ahead and moisturize the area while your skin’s still damp so your moisturizer can lock in the hydration.

Watch What You Wear

To soothe eczema on your elbows, take a look at your outfit of the day. Is it too tight? Is it a polyester or another non-breathable material? You’ll want to switch up your wardrobe to breathable and loose-fitting clothing that’s better for your skin.

Choose natural materials, like organic cotton and bamboo. Steer clear of wool or linen, though, because even though they’re natural, they can be irritating.

Speaking of your clothing, if you’re buying something new, be sure to wash it before wearing it; and, while we’re on the topic, make sure your detergent is fragrance-free and gentle.

Talk With Your Doctor

If your eczema is severe or the above management strategies don’t work, your doctor may recommend medications like steroids or topical calcineurin inhibitors. They also might suggest systemic medications.

There are pros and cons to all medications, so be sure to weigh all of your options with a medical professional.

Love Your Skin Again

Woman with healthy skin enjoying a beautiful day outside

If you’ve got itchy, scaly elbows, it could be eczema. As we said, doctors think eczema is caused by genetics and environmental factors, and there’s nothing you can do about your genes. That means, for eczema on elbows, it’s all about managing your environment.

First, stay away from anything that can trigger flare-ups. After that, it’s all about taking good care of your skin.

Bodewell’s products for eczema-prone skin can help. Our Daily Calming Cream nourishes and hydrates with 22 botanicals, colloidal oatmeal, and other moisturizing ingredients.

When your eczema is acting up, look to Bodewell to help you soothe your sensitive skin.

Sources

American Academy of Dermatology
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Eczema Association
National Institutes of Health

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