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Eczema on the face often appears as dry, itchy, red, and flaky skin. It can also be very annoying and painful because the skin on your face is much more delicate than other areas of the body. All of that itching and scratching can even lead to blisters, sores, and scars.
The good news if you’re dealing with eczema on your face is that you don’t have to walk this path alone. Below, we break down what you need to know about this skin condition, including the common symptoms, different types, causes, triggers, and effective treatments.
Table Of Contents
- Different Types Of Eczema On The Face
- Causes Of Facial Eczema
- 10 Effective Ways To Treat Eczema On Your Face
- When To Contact The Doctor
- Preventing Facial Eczema
The National Eczema Association’s statistics show that over 31 million Americans suffer from eczema. That’s at least 10% of the population. While it might be pretty common, eczema affects every individual differently.
Minor flare-ups that cause mild skin itchiness are possible for some, while others experience extreme itching, dryness, or bleeding.
However, all forms of eczema share similar symptoms, which include:
- Dryness and flaking
- Burning sensation
- Rough or bumpy skin
- Small blisters that may bleed
Is It Eczema?
Just because you have some (or all) of the symptoms listed above doesn’t mean you have eczema. A handful of other skin conditions can present very similarly. These include:
- Psoriasis: A chronic, autoimmune disorder that causes the skin to develop patches of thick and silvery scales
- Hives: A skin reaction from an allergic trigger, which causes red bumps or welts
- Prickly heat: A rash that develops due to overactive sweat glands
- Rosacea: A skin condition where the facial blood vessels enlarge, causing redness and bumps
- Shingles: A viral infection related to the chickenpox that causes a painful rash and blisters
To determine if eczema is the cause of your skin issues, you’ll want to visit your dermatologist or primary care provider. They can help you get a proper diagnosis and recommend a course of treatment based on your individual needs.
Different Types Of Eczema On The Face
If you do have eczema, the next question to ask your doctor is, “What type?” You see, the term "eczema" refers to various skin conditions that result in rashes on the skin that are red, inflamed, and itchy. The eczema varieties that are most likely to affect the face include:
Contact dermatitis typically develops in places that come into contact with perfumes and jewelry, such as the neck and earlobes, as well as around the eyes and hairline. It can be described as a response to a particular stimulus.
It’s important to note that, while we’re focusing on the face, this type of eczema can appear anywhere on the body.
The itching, redness, and dryness might be brought on by the cosmetics you use, such as lotions, exfoliants, face washes, sunscreen, and other personal care items.
All ages, including infants, are susceptible to contact dermatitis. If your baby reacts badly to lotion or baby wipes, they may have this kind of eczema. In addition, due to excessive moisture from drooling, some babies can develop irritating contact dermatitis around their mouths.
The most prevalent kind of eczema, atopic dermatitis, affects people of all ages, too. In fact, children as young as six months old are susceptible.
Even though symptoms occasionally get better after a few weeks or months, they frequently come back over the course of a person's lifetime. These flare-ups are often triggered by environmental factors, irritants, or allergens.
Dry spots and itching around the eyes, cheeks, and forehead are signs of atopic dermatitis. And the back of the knees and the inside of the elbows are two more body parts that frequently see this type of inflammation.
Seborrheic dermatitis is another common type of eczema on the face. While the condition often appears on the ears, eyebrows, and hairline, you can also have symptoms on the scalp and chest. These areas all have natural oil buildups.
As with the previous types, both babies and adults can develop seborrheic dermatitis. However, babies only commonly experience the infant version — cradle cap — until they are about six months old.
Older kids and adults may notice dry, flaky patches on their scalps. This could be dandruff, which is considered a mild form of seborrhoeic dermatitis. It tends to improve once you start using a special shampoo, but it often returns if you switch back to your old bottle.
The main symptom of neurodermatitis is itching. The itch is so severe it's hard to ignore, so you scratch it. Then it itches even more, so you scratch harder. Pretty soon, you're in a vicious cycle of scratching and itching.
You may reach the point where you don't even realize you're scratching anymore because you're so used to it. This is why it's called a "neuro" (nerve) dermatitis — because you've trained your nerves to keep itching, and they just don't stop!
With so much scratching going on, you begin to damage your skin. It gets thicker and feels almost like leather. It's also prone to infection, especially if you cause open wounds when digging your fingernails into it.
While this type of eczema most often occurs on your arms and legs, it can happen anywhere you can reach. This includes your face.
Causes Of Facial Eczema
There are different reasons why you may develop eczema on your face. Here’s a closer look at some of the most common:
- Family history — If someone in your family has the condition, you may also be susceptible to it.
- Age — Eczema is more frequently seen in infants or young children, especially on the face. Many kids gradually outgrow the condition. It can, however, persist into adulthood and impact people of all ages.
- Asthma or other allergies — Your risk of developing eczema increases if you have asthma or allergies.
- Your location — People who live in the Northern Hemisphere, in cities or polluted areas, are more likely to develop eczema.
- Autoimmune disorders — Eczema may occur more in people who have autoimmune conditions.
As mentioned earlier, eczema symptoms have periods when they flare up and times when they subside. Therefore, it's essential to be aware of the following triggers that could be causing your flare-ups:
- Food allergens —After consuming specific foods, you may get an eczema rash. Seafood, eggs, nuts, and milk are common trigger foods.
- Temperature — For many people, eczema can be triggered by weather extremes, such as hot temperatures or frigid winter air.
- Environmental allergens and irritants — These include substances in cosmetics and cleaning products, coming into contact with metal, tobacco smoke, mold, dust, pollen, and pet dander.
- Hormone swings — Elevated or low levels of estrogen or progesterone, in particular, may be a factor in eczema flare-ups.
- Stress — Why stress might cause eczema is still a mystery. However, minimizing stress may assist in lessening flare-ups and alleviating autoimmune responses.
- Dry skin — If your skin is dry, it’s easier for it to become irritated and inflamed.
- Infections — Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections can lead to eczema flare-ups as well.
10 Effective Ways To Treat Eczema On Your Face
Now that you know more about facial eczema, it's time to discuss how to treat this skin condition.
1) Consider Phototherapy
Light treatment might be an excellent option for you if your eczema is moderate to severe and topical treatments haven't helped.
Phototherapy involves the use of ultraviolet (UV) light. But it’s not like using a tanning bed or going outside in direct sunlight. Your healthcare professional uses a limited number of wavelengths for brief periods to treat your skin.
After a few sessions, this therapy may alleviate common eczema symptoms, such as:
Note: Not everyone is a good candidate for this treatment option, so speak to your doctor to see if this could be a good fit for you.
2) Use A Gentle Cleanser
Keeping your skin clean helps reduce your eczema symptoms. But you have to wash with the right products.
Soaps can be abrasive and dry out your skin, which aggravates eczema. Instead, use a gentle, non-soap cleanser. A medical emollient or a mild cleanser can get the job done right without irritating your sensitive skin and making matters worse.
Additionally, some eczema can worsen in hot showers. Always use lukewarm water to wash your face to lessen the chance of heat-related flare-ups and pat dry with a soft towel.
Dry skin exacerbates your eczema, so make it a priority to stay hydrated.
Choosing a moisturizer that specifically targets eczema symptoms can help. Your moisturizer should promote healthy skin barrier function and reduce irritation and inflammation.
Thick creams and ointments work better than thinner lotions to prevent skin from drying out. After washing your face, apply your moisturizer gently over the affected areas.
If you’re struggling with itchy flare-ups when you’re out of the house, keep a bottle of our Eczema Daily Calming Cream: On-the-Go in your purse. It’ll penetrate your skin and start working immediately to help relieve your eczema itch.
And since it’s a non-greasy formula, you don’t have to worry about running around with a shiny face.
4) Mind The Sun
Sunscreen is always important, but if you suffer from eczema, you’ll need to be even more careful in the sun. There are many different types of sunscreen, so choosing the right one is essential.
For example, products containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are typically easier for sensitive skin to tolerate. Be sure to look closely at the ingredients list of your sunblock, or you could accidentally be rubbing something irritating on your skin.
If you’re going to be in the sun for an extended period of time, remember to reapply your sunscreen after a couple of hours. You could also consider wearing a floppy-brimmed hat to keep your face shaded.
After exposing your skin to the sun, we recommend gently cleansing your face and applying your moisturizer to keep symptoms at bay.
5) Choose The Right Cosmetics
Having eczema on your face doesn't mean you can never wear makeup; it just means you have to find the right ingredients. Look for products with moisturizing components, like hyaluronic acid and shea butter.
Try to avoid harsh ingredients, such as fragrances, parabens, or synthetic dyes that might worsen your eczema irritation.
Some people with this condition turn to mineral makeup brands hoping they’ll be better for their skin. However, studies have shown that many mineral makeup brands still have problematic ingredients.
Try to avoid harsh ingredients, such as fragrances, parabens, or synthetic dyes that might worsen your eczema irritation.
So you’ll want to do your research and be picky about which cosmetic products you use.
6) Use A Cold Compress
A cool, damp cloth can reduce itchiness and inflammation while soothing the skin. To make a cold compress at home, soak a clean cloth in cold water and wring it out so it's not dripping.
Place it over the eczema patches on your face and leave it there for a few minutes. You can repeat this treatment several times a day.
7) Try Home Remedies
People have been trying creative DIY solutions for skin issues long before the invention of modern medicine. Nature is full of ingredients that can help alleviate eczema on the face.
For example, aloe vera gel is famous for its anti-inflammatory effects and may soothe skin irritation if applied topically. Coconut oil and honey are also lauded for their moisturizing abilities.
Here are a few popular home remedies you can try. Just remember that these may not work for everyone. And you may need to try a few before you find one that helps your skin.
Honey has properties that may help relieve symptoms of eczema. Mix together equal parts water and honey, then apply to the affected area three times a day. Make sure you use medical grade honey.
Coconut oil helps moisturize dry skin and reduce irritation. Apply it twice daily or whenever you’re feeling an itch coming on.
Oatmeal Face Mask
Oatmeal can help soothe inflamed and itchy skin. And while an oatmeal bath can help eczema on other parts of your body, it’s kind of tricky to keep your face soaking.
Instead, turn oatmeal into a DIY face mask. Here’s how:
- Grind ¼ cup of oatmeal into a fine powder and dump it into a small bowl.
- Add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice (bottled is fine) and 1.5 tablespoons of honey.
- Mix together until you get a paste-like consistency.
- Then, apply it to your face.
- Leave it on for 10-15 minutes.
- Finally, rinse your face with lukewarm water.
It should leave you feeling hydrated and refreshed.
8) Ask About Medication
There is no cure for eczema. However, if you find that home remedies and lifestyle changes aren’t making a difference in your condition, it could be time for some stronger treatments with medication.
You can purchase some corticosteroid cream over the counter, though this isn't as potent as the formula a dermatologist might prescribe. Your doctor may also talk to you about taking:
- Antihistamines: to reduce itching and inflammation
- Topical calcineurin inhibitors (TCIs): to alter your immune system slightly to block one of the chemicals that has been linked to eczema
- Antibiotics: to help clear up any infections that have developed in your skin
9) Tweak Your Diet
Some studies show a possible connection between eczema and food. If your diet is heavy in sugar, processed, or fried foods, it could contribute to inflammation in your body, which could make your eczema worse.
Try eating more whole foods, like fruits and vegetables, as well as healthy fats, like avocados and nuts. These can reduce inflammation and provide the vitamins and minerals your body needs to thrive.
You'll also want to drink plenty of water. Not only can it help prevent dehydration, but the more hydrated your skin is, the less likely you are to experience flare-ups. Drink 6-8 glasses daily to keep your skin healthy.
10) Keep Your Hands Off
One of the worst things you can do when dealing with eczema on your face is scratch it. Yes, it's itchy and sometimes uncomfortable. But when you scratch, your nails can dig into the skin and cause inflammation, even more itching, and potential infection.
If you find yourself reaching for your face often, try to keep your hands occupied with something else — like doodling or using a fidget spinner. Or wear gloves to keep your nails from doing damage.
When To Contact The Doctor
A dermatologist, general practitioner, or allergist are great resources for identifying the underlying cause of your eczema.
They can also evaluate whether you actually have eczema or a condition that closely resembles it and requires different treatment options.
Treatment plans may include both over-the-counter ointments and medications, and a health professional can help you pinpoint the root cause of eczema flare-ups and create a strategy to reduce or eliminate your triggers.
Reach out to your doctor again if you notice that:
- Your itching isn’t subsiding
- Your skin is bleeding
- You have sore and puffy affected areas
- You have large and inflamed patches of skin
- Yellow crusts have developed on the skin’s surface
Preventing Facial Eczema
Once you have your eczema symptoms under control, you don’t want them to come back. While you may not be able to completely eliminate the itchy red patches, these tips can help you avoid future flare-ups:
- Moisturize: Keep your skin hydrated throughout the day with a thick product like Eczema Daily Calming Cream: On-the-Go.
- Reduce your stress levels: Take time to do deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, or other calming practices that can help you feel more chill.
- Don’t sleep in makeup: Always wash your face before bed.
- Avoid drying agents in your skincare routine: Skip the strong toners, exfoliating scrubs, and other similar products.
- Be gentle: Your skin’s natural barrier is tough, but not invincible. Scratching, scrubbing, and other rough activities can damage it, leading to further irritation.
- Tread carefully: Your face is a delicate area. Some treatments that work well for eczema on other parts of your body aren’t appropriate for use on your face. If you’re not sure, ask a doctor before applying.
- Avoid irritants: If you know what’s triggering your eczema flare-ups, do your best to stay away from those things.
- Use a humidifier: Keep your home’s humidity level between 30-50%.
Be Patient With Your Skin
Facial eczema can be a chronic disorder that flares up frequently. While you may outgrow your eczema over time, it may also be a lifelong balancing act.
Here at Bodewell, we've dedicated our lives to creating effective skincare solutions because you deserve better skin days. Our Eczema Daily Calming Cream has the perfect combination of our proprietary BW22 botanical blend and colloidal oatmeal to help relieve itching and irritation.
Having eczema on your face isn't the end of clear skin for you. By using the tips we outlined above and finding a doctor to guide you through topical and internal medications as necessary, we are confident you can find something that works for you.
Even if your eczema doesn't go away entirely, the proper treatment can lessen symptoms and decrease how often flare-ups happen. With the right tools, you can have clearer-looking skin again in no time!