Eczema on the face: symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment.

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An eczema rash can appear anywhere on the body. But when it does appear on the face, it can be especially unsightly, painful, and itchy. This is because facial skin is especially sensitive. A red, dry, scaly rash can even blister.

Eczema on the face can appear alone or together with eczema on the body. And while for some people this happens only occasionally, others cope with it more consistently.

Facial eczema is common in babies and young children, but it can affect people of any age.

This article explains the types and causes of facial eczema and how to diagnose and treat the condition.

Get drug information / Lara Antal

Types of facial eczema

Eczema is a term for a group of conditions that cause itching, redness, and inflammation of skin rashes. The types of eczema that appear most frequently on the face are:

  • Atopic dermatitis : This is the most common type of eczema in general. It is very common on the cheeks and chin, especially in babies. It can also appear around the eyes, on the eyelids, and around the lips. However, it can occur anywhere on the face or the rest of the body.
  • Contact dermatitis – This is also a common type of eczema. It is a reaction of the skin to a specific stimulus. On the face, it is usually found around the eyes, along the hairline, and in areas that come in contact with perfume and jewelry, such as the neck and earlobes. But like atopic dermatitis, this type of eczema can occur anywhere.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis : This type most often occurs around the hairline, eyebrows, around the ears, and on the sides of the nose.

Symptoms of facial eczema

Although they are slightly different, all types of eczema have similar symptoms, including:

  • Redness / spotting
  • Sometimes intense itching
  • Burning or burning sensation
  • Dryness and peeling (these scales may be yellow with seborrheic dermatitis)
  • Rough or uneven skin
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Small blisters that may ooze or ooze
  • Cracked skin that can bleed (in severe cases)
Pan Xinbin / Getty Images

During an exacerbation, the skin may also feel sore and clammy. If eczema (on the face or elsewhere) lasts for a long time, the skin may become thick, discolored, or scarred over time.

Nearly 30 million people live with eczema in the United States, and it affects everyone in different ways. Some people may experience mild breakouts when their skin itches a little. For others, exacerbations include severe itching, dryness or crying, and bleeding.

Eczema around the eyes

When eczema occurs on the face, it often affects the skin around the eyes or eyelids (especially in adults). Eczema that develops near the eyes requires special attention because the eyes themselves can be affected.

People with eczema around the eyes are more prone to certain eye problems, such as conjunctivitis (pink eye), inflammation of the cornea, and remodeling of the cornea (a condition called keratoconus ).

When to contact a healthcare provider

Early treatment can help prevent eye disease from getting worse. If left untreated, complications from eczema around the eyes can cause vision loss. See your doctor if you have problems such as:

  • Watery or sore eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Eye pain

Causes

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), healthcare professionals don't know exactly what causes eczema. But there are several things that seem to drive it. These factors include:

  • Family history of eczema : If a family member has it, you are likely to develop it.
  • Asthma or Allergy Diagnosis : If you have asthma or allergies, your chances of developing eczema increase.
  • Autoimmune diseases : If you have autoimmune diseases, you may be at risk of developing eczema. However, people with a healthy immune system can also have this skin disorder.
  • Its location : Eczema is more common in people who live in the Northern Hemisphere, metropolitan areas, or polluted areas.
  • Your age : Eczema is most common in infants or young children, especially on the face. Many children outgrow this disease over time. But eczema can continue into adulthood and affect people of all ages.

Triggers

The skin on your face is especially delicate. Therefore, it is more prone to irritation. According to the National Eczema Association (NEA), some common triggers that can lead to eczema flare-ups include:

  • Environmental irritants and allergens – These are materials and chemicals that come into contact with your skin. These include ingredients in soaps, shampoos, cleaning products, fragrances, cigarette smoke, metal contact, and fabric dyes. Common allergens (substances that cause an allergic reaction) consist of mold , pet dander , dust , and pollen .
  • Food allergens : Some people develop eczema after eating certain foods. Common trigger foods include nuts, shellfish, milk, and eggs.
  • Stress : To date, researchers are unsure why stress can trigger eczema. But avoiding stress as much as possible can help reduce breakouts.
  • Outside temperature : Many people think that hot weather causes eczema. On the other hand, dry winter air can also act as a trigger.
  • Fluctuating hormones : Rises and drops in estrogen or progesterone levels, in particular, can make eczema worse.

When it comes to eczema on your face, pay special attention to anything that comes in contact with your skin. Sensitivity to makeup, masks, toners, cleansers, and other facial products can trigger eczema.

Diagnostics

There is no specific test to diagnose eczema. Instead, your healthcare provider will review your symptoms and medical history and examine your skin.

If necessary, a patch , skin scraping / KOH test, or skin biopsy can help with the diagnosis. Knowing what type of eczema you have will help your healthcare provider find the right treatment.

In some cases, eczema can be confused with other similar conditions:

  • Rosacea : This skin condition also causes redness and bumps on the cheeks and chin. The main difference is that rosacea usually doesn't itch.
  • Xerosis – Better known as dry skin, xerosis causes flaking and sometimes redness and irritation. It may itch, but not as itchy as with eczema. Also, unlike eczema, it clears up quickly with regular use of moisturizers.
  • Acne : Although this skin condition causes redness, irregularities, and is often irritating, acne formation distinguishes it from eczema.

Watch out

Although there is no cure for eczema, there are many treatment options available to help make life easier with the condition. However, take the sensitivity of your facial skin into account when deciding which treatment may be best.

If you have mild eczema, you can manage it with proper skin care and continued hydration. However, in many cases, medications are needed.

Before treating your toddler or toddler, be sure to check with your child's pediatrician. Facial eczema is common in young children and may not need any treatment.

Skin care

Taking good care of your skin is the most important aspect of treating eczema on your face. Use only cosmetics that are fragrance-free and hypoallergenic (that is, less likely to cause allergies). Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Use a mild cleanser . Soaps can be harsh and dry out the skin, exacerbating eczema. Instead, consider a mild soap-free cleanser .
  • Wash your face with lukewarm water . Hot showers can trigger eczema in some people. To reduce the risk of a heat outbreak, wash it off with lukewarm water.
  • Keep your skin hydrated . If you have eczema, it is important to keep your skin hydrated. Creams and ointments hydrate the skin as much as possible. Also look for products with emollient ingredients like ceramides . And make sure they are free of dyes and fragrances to reduce the chances of irritation.
  • Remember the sun . If the sun is giving you flare-ups , you may need sunscreen. In general, products containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide can be more easily tolerated by sensitive skin. When you are not in the sun, wash your face and apply a moisturizer. Sunscreens are helpful but can dry out the skin.
  • Look for cosmetics with moisturizing ingredients . Facial eczema doesn't mean you can never put on makeup, but not all products are created equal. Look for those that contain moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and shea butter. Avoid ingredients like parabens (a group of preservatives), salicylic and glycolic acids, fragrances, and retinol, as they can aggravate irritation.

Over-the-counter hydrocortisone

Topical steroids are common treatments for body eczema. But for the delicate skin of the face, you should use them with care . Over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream is often preferred by healthcare professionals because it poses less risk of skin thinning and discoloration than stronger creams.

With the permission of your healthcare professional, the cream can be used for a short time (less than four weeks) to relieve itching and redness. Hydrocortisone should not be applied to the eye area.

Topical calcineurin inhibitors

Elidel and Protopic are medications that are commonly used to treat eczema on the face. Since these are non-steroidal drugs, they do not thin the skin. Therefore, you can safely wear them around the eyes and on the eyelids.

Phototherapy

When they are unsuccessful, phototherapy it could be the next step. Phototherapy uses a device that directs ultraviolet B (UVB) light onto the skin. It reduces itching and inflammation, increases vitamin D production, and improves the body's natural ability to fight bacteria on the skin.

Front facing

Eczema can be frustrating. But there are steps you can take to ease the burden of this skin condition.

How to deal with itching

The itching that accompanies eczema can be intense. Sometimes the itching is so intense that it interferes with sleep or daily activities. In some cases, antihistamines and cooling wipes placed on the itchy area can help.

If you have severe itching, ask your doctor about the best way to deal with the itching.

Find support

Because facial eczema is easy for others to see, many people feel embarrassed during an outbreak. As a result, you may feel less safe or withdrawn from social situations.

Reach out to supportive family and friends. Finding understanding people can also do wonders for your worldview. You can ask your healthcare provider if a local support group is meeting near you or check out online options like those offered through the NEA .

Summary

Facial eczema is a red, scaly, itchy rash that appears on the face. The rash may crack or turn into bleeding or oozing blisters.

Although the cause is unknown, certain things, such as allergies, asthma, and a family history of eczema, can increase the risk of developing this condition. Eczema flare-ups are often the result of exposure to chemicals, odors, heat, allergens, and stress.

There is no cure for eczema. However, many treatments can help you control eczema and prevent flare-ups. Keeping the skin moist, preventing triggers, medication, and phototherapy are effective treatment options.

Get the word of drug information

When you live with eczema on your face, it can seem like your face is taking center stage. See your dermatologist regularly to monitor your symptoms.

You may find that as the seasons change and as you age, your skin's needs may change. Your healthcare provider can help you determine which medications and treatments are best for you. They can also advise you on how to treat symptoms at home and help you develop the best skin care regimen to prevent breakouts.

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