Symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention

You wake up, look in the mirror and see red, scaly patches on your face. They itch and ooze. What the hell is happening ? You’re most likely dealing with facial eczema – and yes, it can happen seemingly out of the blue. Why does this happen, though, and how can you calm your skin? Let’s see how eczema specifically affects your face and how to look and feel better ASAP.

What exactly is eczema?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis (AD), affects up to 15 million Americans. It often starts in childhood and you have a higher risk of developing it if you are female, black, or have asthma or hay fever. Eczema affects your skin’s ability to fend off irritants. “You’re dealing with a compromised skin barrier,” says Mona Gohara, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine. Outbreaks occur when your skin is exposed to an allergen. Factors like an overactive immune system, family history of eczema, strong irritants like pollution or chemicals in your environment, or carrying around a lot of stress can also increase your chances of having a flare-up.

What does eczema look like on your face?

In addition to obvious irritation, very dry skin is often a sign of the disease. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that thick, leathery skin can also indicate eczema. Adults with AD often have it around the eyes, which causes the skin to appear thicker and darker. Can you have eczema on your ears? Not so likely. “The eczema on your ears is probably psoriasis,” says Dr. Gohara. “That’s because there’s less chance of your ears being exposed to a lot of irritants – you’re not touching your ears as much as your face.”

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eczema photo by bsipuig via getty images

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woman with symptoms of atopic dermatitis on forehead and eyebrows

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What causes eczema on your face?

Interestingly, your skin might suddenly decide that one of your favorite products just isn’t right for it anymore. “You might think you have eczema on your face because, say, you just used too much Retin-A once,” says Dr. Gohara. “But a product you’ve used every day can suddenly cause a reaction. Also, there can be a delay between using a product and developing a reaction – sometimes days or weeks.

Surprising products can cause an allergic flare-up. “Nail polish is a very common cause of facial eczema,” adds Dr. Gohara. “You touch your face all the time without realizing it.” This is why you might notice DA on your eyelids – have you rubbed them after a manicure? Most likely.

How is facial eczema treated?

First, see a dermatologist for a proper diagnosis. Your doctor can go through the list of products you use regularly and help you determine which specific ingredients in your cleansers or makeup might be causing you problems.

Patch testing your skin can also be helpful in determining how to treat your Alzheimer’s disease. There are a number of medications you could try if your case is severe. “Topical steroids can be used for very short periods of time, but there are side effects including thinning of the skin and glaucoma or cataracts with heavy use,” says Lawrence F. Eichenfield, MD, vice chairman of the dermatology department at the hospital. University of California, San Diego. “Topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents can be very helpful, including pimecrolimus, tacrolimus, crisaborole, and, the newest topical agent approved, topical ruxolitinib.”

Ask your doctor if these treatments are right for you.

How to prevent facial eczema:

There are also a number of steps you can take yourself to see if your flare-ups improve:

  • Reduce your use of detergent. A Binghamton University study found that people who wash their hands very often because of their job – healthcare workers and hairdressers, for example – suffer from higher rates of eczema. Researchers believe this could be because contact with detergent cleansers can remove oils from the skin that can protect against irritants and allergens. Apply that logic to your face – avoid harsh soaps and cleansers.
  • Avoid scented products. “If you have eczema, hydration is very important, and you might think something mild like coconut oil or shea butter will be great to use on your face,” says Dr Gohara. . “The problem is that these products are scented, which can really irritate your skin. Just because a product is organic doesn’t mean it’s suitable for AD.
  • Enjoy the humidity. It helps lock in moisture in your skin after showering, which strengthens your skin barrier. Hydrate while your bathroom is still nice and humid, and also invest in a humidifier.
  • Consider your diet. A study from the University of California, San Francisco found that some patients had relief from Alzheimer’s disease when they cut out white flour, gluten and nightshade vegetables – such as tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplants – from their diet. However, everyone is different: if you have food allergies, talk to your doctor about the value of eliminating foods.
  • Think sweet at all times. Dry your face rather than scrubbing. Use soft washcloths. Sleep on a 100% cotton or bamboo pillowcase. The easier you are on your skin, the lower your risk of a facial rash.

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