Dealing with eczema on skin of color? It can show up differently depending on your skin tone. Learn about the symptoms of eczema and your treatment options.

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Eczema On Skin Of Color: Appearance, Symptoms, And Treatment

08/17/20228 min read

Your skin color is part of what makes you you. But when it comes to eczema, it’s important to remember that it can appear differently depending on the shade of your beautiful skin. If you’re curious about eczema on skin of color, stick around.

In this article, we’ll discuss the appearance of eczema on skin of color as well as symptoms of this common skin condition. Then, you’ll read several tips for treating your eczema and easing the discomfort. But before that, we’ll do a quick review of eczema and skin of color in general.

Table Of Contents

Eczema And Skin Of Color

Young woman touching her skin

Eczema is an umbrella term for several skin conditions, but the most common form is scientifically known as atopic dermatitis. This is what people typically refer to when they say “eczema.”

Did you know research suggests that people of color are more likely to develop eczema? This is due to both environmental factors and genetics.

While the exact cause of eczema is a bit of a mystery, if it runs in your family, you’re more likely to have it. If you live in a place with more allergens, like dust or mold, you’re at greater risk, too.

So, what makes eczema eczema? Healthy skin that’s working at 100% serves as a protective barrier between your body and the outside world. One of the jobs of this barrier is to keep moisture in your skin.

If you have eczema, your skin barrier is compromised. That means moisture escapes more easily, — causing dry skin — and that irritants make more of an impact.

That said, let’s discuss how eczema appears on skin of color.

Eczema On Skin Of Color: Appearance

If you’ve heard that eczema is a red rash (in addition to being dry and itchy), that’s true. But it’s only part of the story because that’s how it shows up on light skin tones. On darker skin tones, eczema looks more like a dark brown, purple, or gray rash.

Plus, the National Eczema Association notes that a unique form of eczema can show up on skin of color.

They state: “Black Americans more commonly develop small bumps on the torso, arms, and legs (called papular eczema). Sometimes, bumps develop around hair follicles and resemble goosebumps (this is known as follicular accentuation).”

After a flare-up, people with darker skin often have more changes in skin color than people with lighter skin. The healed patches may be lighter or darker than the rest of your skin.

Symptoms Of Eczema

Woman scratching itchy eczema on black skin

If you have eczema, you’re probably well aware of many of the symptoms. But if you’re still trying to figure out if this skin condition is what’s plaguing you, make an appointment with your dermatologist.

In the meantime, here are a few of the common symptoms to watch for:

  • Skin inflammation
  • Dry skin
  • Itchy skin
  • Scaly skin
  • It comes and goes (flare-ups)
  • Brown, purple, or gray patches of skin
  • Swollen, warm patches of skin
  • Small bumps, like goosebumps, on your trunk, arms, or legs (these are called papular lesions)
  • Dark circles around your eyes

How To Treat Your Eczema

Once you know eczema is what you’re dealing with, it’s time to take action. While there’s no definitive cure for eczema, there are ways to help avoid flare-ups and soothe your itchy, irritated skin.

Eczema might look different based on your skin tone, but caring for your eczema-prone skin is similar across the board. Below, we’ll list several alternative treatment options. But keep in mind that your dermatologist can prescribe a steroid cream or oral steroids if needed.

Don’t Scratch

Man scratching his face with eczema on skin of color

Eczema can be unbearably itchy, but you aren’t doing yourself any favors by scratching it. Scratching only serves to irritate your skin even more. And, for skin of color, scratching might lead to thick skin and skin discoloration.

Keep your hands busy and resist the urge.

Avoid Fragrances

Atopic skin is dry and sensitive. Treat it tenderly by avoiding moisturizing creams that contain fragrances. They might smell nice, but fragrance is an irritant. Instead, look for lotions and creams that are “fragrance-free,” not just “unscented.”

Speaking of irritating ingredients to avoid, you’ll want to think past your daily moisturizer. Stay away from perfume and cologne and look for gentle, fragrance-free household cleaning products, laundry detergent, and fabric softener.

Avoid Triggers

To rein in your eczema flare-ups, learn what triggers your eczema and avoid it. It may be a certain type of metal, sweating, stress, or a particular skincare product. Triggers can also be environmental, such as cigarette smoke, humid or dry weather, and allergens.

Take A Warm Bath

As much as you might want a nice, hot bath, stay away from hot water. It does no favors to eczema-prone skin. The same goes for very cold water. Just like Goldilocks, you want it to be not too hot and not too cold, but just right.

Speaking of baths, soaking in a colloidal oatmeal bath with lukewarm water for 15 minutes can help soothe your eczema-prone skin. To make your own oatmeal bath, grind whole, uncooked oats in a blender until it forms a powder. Then, use a cup (more or less) in your warm bath.

Care For Your Skin In The Shower

Person squeezing body wash onto their hand from a bottle

When you take a shower, make it work for your skin, not against it. As we just mentioned, it’s important to use warm (not hot) water. But how else can you make your shower great for your skin?

Keep your shower relatively short — ideally less than 10 minutes — since the water itself can be drying. And use products made specifically for sensitive skin, such as Bodewell Sensitive Skin Moisturizing Body Wash and Dry Scalp Daily Shampoo.

Sensitive Skin Moisturizing Body Wash helps lock in moisture (just what your parched skin needs) and leaves your skin feeling soft and smooth. This is the perfect way to cleanse your skin and go easy on it at the same time.

Meanwhile, keep your hair clean and tend to your scalp with Dry Scalp Daily Shampoo. With ingredients like pyrithione zinc (ZPT), almond oil, and vitamin B-3, this shampoo reduces flaking, itching, and dryness on your scalp caused by dandruff.

In case it sounds like Greek to you, pyrithione zinc is an active ingredient used to treat dandruff and help prevent the recurrence of flaking and itching. Almond oil helps moisturize, and vitamin B-3 helps lock in moisture for healthy-looking skin.

Finally, when you hop out of the shower, use a clean, gentle towel to pat yourself dry. Don’t rub. Then, always apply a moisturizer made for eczema-prone skin. That brings us to our last (but maybe most important) point.

Apply Eczema Cream

Woman applying eczema cream

When you have eczema, increasing the moisture content of your skin is essential. Use fragrance-free emollients at least once per day, ideally, immediately after bathing or showering.

Our Eczema Daily Calming Cream contains colloidal oatmeal, which softens and soothes the skin. It is also made with coconut oil, vitamin E, vitamin B3, and a proprietary blend of 22 botanicals.

Eczema Daily Calming Cream gently addresses the acute symptoms of eczema by providing a soothing and protective barrier. Then, it works to restore balance and promote clearer-looking skin over time.

Here at Bodewell, we design skincare products specifically for your skin condition, with clinically tested ingredients that work so you’re ready for just about anything.

More Living And Less Worrying

Young couple enjoying good skin days

If swollen, itchy, dry skin is showing up in dark brown, purple, or gray patches on your skin, you just might have eczema. While people of color are more likely to have eczema, the good news is that the treatment is the same. You can tend to your skin at home.

Start by kicking the habit of scratching to the curb and avoiding your triggers. As far as skin care, Bodewell can help with our products designed for eczema-prone skin, such as Sensitive Skin Moisturizing Body Wash, Dry Scalp Daily Shampoo, and Eczema Daily Calming Cream.

Your skin is unique and so are these products. Inspired by science and nature, our products were created with eczema in mind and start working from day one. They help calm your skin so you’ll have more days living and enjoying life and fewer days worrying about your skin.

Here’s to you and your beautiful skin.


American Academy of Dermatology Association
National Eczema Association
National Library of Medicine

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