Eczema is a chronic skin condition that can manifest in a number of ways. In some people, eczema causes small bumps to form inside the hair follicles.

This type of eczema is more common among people with dark skin. Although follicular eczema is incurable, people can manage the condition in a few different ways.

This article discusses follicular eczema in more detail, including its symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention. It also answers some common questions about the condition.

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Eczema is a condition that affects a person’s skin. Follicular eczema occurs when eczema causes problems with the hair follicles. These are small holes in the skin from which hairs may grow.

Eczema can cause small raised bumps called follicular papules to form in and around the hair follicle. This is the defining symptom of follicular eczema.

People with follicular eczema may also experience other eczema symptoms, including:

Importantly, eczema can present differently depending on the color of the skin.

A paper in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology notes that in light skin, eczema will often present as red skin plaques. Contrastingly, in dark skin, eczema is also more likely to cause skin discoloration, lichenification, and papules.

According to a review in Therapeutic Advances in Chronic Diseases, follicular eczema is also more common in people with dark skin.

Scientists remain uncertain about the exact causes of follicular eczema. However, they believe that several factors may increase the risk of developing eczema. These include:

  • Genetics: Certain genetic mutations may cause problems with the skin, which may predispose people to develop eczema.
  • Immune system problems: In people with eczema, the skin may release certain proteins in response to environmental triggers. This can cause inflammation, which may trigger eczema symptoms.
  • Skin barrier dysfunctions: People with eczema are more likely to experience a host of problems with the outer layers of their skin. This may occur because their skin does not produce enough skin barrier proteins.

Eczema is a chronic condition. However, the symptoms can suddenly worsen, often in response to a triggering factor. This is called an eczema flare-up. Common triggers of these flare-ups include:

  • dust mites
  • certain foods, including eggs, peanuts, and wheat
  • high heat
  • high humidity
  • chemicals and soaps
  • some fabrics, such as acrylic and wool

Some people may also experience eczema flare-ups that have no obvious cause. A doctor can help a person identify their triggers.

There is currently no cure for eczema. However, scientists have developed several management strategies for this condition.

An important step is to identify and avoid eczema triggers, which reduces the chances of an eczema flare-up. When an eczema flare-up does occur, topical steroids and anti-inflammatory medications are an effective way to reduce the severity of the symptoms.

Doctors also recommend adopting a daily skin care routine. This will likely involve hydrating the skin with a fragrance-free moisturizer.

People should speak with a healthcare professional to determine which treatment is best for their skin.

Scientists do not know whether eczema is preventable.

Researchers have tested several methods for preventing eczema. However, the evidence for their efficacy remains scant. According to a 2020 review, the following strategies do not appear to prevent eczema:

  • exclusively nursing, rather than bottle feeding, during infancy
  • prolonged childhood nursing
  • reducing parental allergen exposure during pregnancy
  • reducing child allergen exposure in early infancy
  • parental vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy

There is some evidence that children are less likely to develop eczema if their birthing parent used omega-3 supplements during pregnancy.

There is also some evidence that people may lower their risk of eczema by consuming probiotics. However, this evidence is not conclusive.

Further research into the possibility of eczema prevention is necessary.

Below are answers to some of the most common questions about follicular eczema.

Are eczema and folliculitis related?

Folliculitis is an infection or inflammation of the hair follicle. Although folliculitis is not a form of follicular eczema, eczema may increase the risk of folliculitis.

What causes follicular eczema?

Follicular eczema may arise due to genetic factors, problems with the skin barrier, and immune system problems.

Is follicular eczema contagious?

Follicular eczema is not a contagious condition.

When eczema affects the hair follicles, a healthcare professional may refer to it as follicular eczema. This condition is more prevalent among people with dark skin tones.

The treatment for follicular eczema involves avoiding factors that may trigger a flare-up, using topical medications, and regularly moisturizing the skin. A healthcare professional can help a person find the right treatments for their skin.