Eczema is a group of skin conditions that cause skin redness and irritation. It can develop anywhere on the body, including the face.
Eczema on the face may have several characteristics, such as:
Although people can manage their symptoms, there is no cure for eczema. Eczema tends to improve and then get worse again, which doctors call flares.
In children, the face is often one of the first places eczema develops. It usually starts between the ages of 6 months and 5 years.
In this article, we examine how to treat eczema on the face. We also look at when a person should discuss facial eczema with a doctor.
Tips and strategies that may help a person eliminate eczema on the face include:
Other conditions, such as seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis, have a similar appearance to eczema but require different treatment.
For example, treating seborrheic dermatitis typically focuses on removing scales on the skin and using antifungal cream. Psoriasis tends to have milder itching than eczema and causes patches of thick, inflamed skin.
A doctor can examine a person and diagnose eczema or another condition.
Good hygiene practices may help people manage and reduce their eczema symptoms. A person should wash their skin regularly but not use soap or heavily scented products that can over-dry or irritate the skin. They should take short, lukewarm showers or baths, pat the skin dry instead of rubbing it, and moisturize right after bathing.
Using hydrating creams regularly may help heal the skin and keep it from getting too dry.
Some people with eczema may find bleach baths help to reduce inflammation and skin bacteria. The National Eczema Association notes that bleach concentration is similar to that of a chlorinated swimming pool. It recommends 5–10 minutes for each bathing session.
Parents and caregivers should ensure they carefully wipe and dry an infant’s mouth and face after eating. They should avoid using commercial, pre-moistened wipes on the face.
A person can take steps to improve eczema by avoiding substances that may irritate the skin, such as soap, essential oils, and scented products.
While sun exposure can decrease inflammation in the skin and improve eczema, the heat and sweat from sun exposure can trigger a flare.
Other potential triggers for eczema symptoms include:
- dust mites
- cleaning products
- air pollution
- nail polish
- hair dye
- house paint
- some medications
Identifying triggers and avoiding them may help improve eczema symptoms.
Over-the-counter and prescription medications can help people manage their itching. Doctors and pharmacists can show people the most effective ways to use these products.
Healthcare professionals may suggest trying a cooling mask made from rice paper over topical medications or moisturizer for about 30 minutes to relieve symptoms. They may also recommend taking a non-sedating antihistamine 1 hour before a sports event, workout, or other activity, since sweat can worsen eczema.
Many people with eczema have difficulty sleeping due to itching. To alleviate itching, a person can:
- use topical medications in the late afternoon and early evening to prevent nighttime itching
- sleep on a cooling pillow
- sleep with a cooling mask
- use a humidifier to keep household air from becoming too dry
Wet wraps can be helpful to ease nighttime itching, especially for children and infants.
Eczema may cause severe itching in some people, but scratching can make it worse. Since it is tough not to scratch, a person should keep their fingernails as short as possible.
For infants with eczema on the face, anti-scratch mittens can help prevent them from scratching their skin.
Some people can manage their facial eczema with self-care, but support from a doctor can help others.
People should see a doctor for eczema on the face if:
- the itching rarely stops
- large areas of the skin have inflammation
- the skin is bleeding or oozing
- affected areas of skin are sore and swollen
- yellow crusts form on the surface of the skin
- sleep is interrupted
Seeing a doctor, such as a dermatologist, allergist, or general practitioner, can help people learn more about their condition and treat it more effectively. A doctor can determine if an individual’s condition is eczema or something that looks like eczema, which would require a different kind of treatment.
Once they have made a diagnosis, doctors can show people how to eliminate eczema on the face by following a comprehensive treatment plan. A treatment plan may include a mix of over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs.
Doctors can also work with people to identify the causes of eczema flares and develop a plan to avoid or limit triggers.
Eczema is a group of skin conditions that cause inflammation and significant itching. It can develop anywhere on the body, but it is particularly uncomfortable when it shows up on the face.
Eczema frequently develops on the face in young children, but it can also occur in adults.
To minimize the impact of eczema on the face, people should:
- make sure that their condition is eczema and not something else
- take care not to make it worse
- take steps to heal the skin
Understanding and avoiding triggers, practicing gentle hygiene, and moisturizing regularly are key steps to reduce facial eczema.