How to get rid of eczema on the face

Learn how to get rid of eczema on the face and find out what causes atopic dermatitis, what are the common triggers and how best to manage the condition.

Eczema is an uncomfortable and frustrating skin condition at the best of times, but when it’s in a highly visible place such as the face, it’s particularly unpleasant. Not only does it feel uncomfortable and itchy, but it can make you feel self-conscious if you’re not able to cover the rash. Let’s take a look at how to get rid of eczema on the face with some over-the-counter remedies and share some tips on how to manage ongoing eczema.

What is eczema?

Atopic eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, causes patches of dry, cracked and itchy skin. It tends to be a chronic condition that affects people for years, but it is most common in children and many either grow out of it or notice that their symptoms improve as they get older. The severity of eczema varies with some people experiencing small patches of manageable dryness while others see widespread and highly inflamed skin across the body.

On light skin, eczema tends to appear red and angry. On darker skin, it usually looks brown, purple or grey. The skin often appears visibly raised and textured. Parts of the body most commonly affected by eczema are the scalp, the hands, the inner elbows and the backs of the knees, but it can occur anywhere including on the face. Most people find that their symptoms flare up and dissipate periodically over time. Often, symptoms get worse during times of physical or emotional stress.

What causes eczema?

There isn’t a single cause of eczema. Lots of different things can trigger or exacerbate it. Many people who get eczema find they also have lots of allergies, which suggests that a sensitivity to allergens is to blame. It’s common to have hay fever and asthma along with eczema, and all of these conditions tend to run in families which suggests there is a strong genetic link.

Common asthma triggers include soaps, detergents, perfumes, extreme weather and stress. With young children that experience severe eczema, food allergies are typically to blame for the symptoms. Usually, it becomes clear what the trigger is once you notice patterns in flareups. In severe cases and when a trigger can’t be identified, doctors may conduct allergy tests to determine the cause.

Why does eczema occur on the face?

The skin on the face is thinner and more sensitive than skin elsewhere on the body. This means it can be particularly vulnerable to irritation when exposed to allergens or triggers. Eczema patches on the face often occur due to a reaction to facewash, moisturisers or other skincare or makeup products. Haircare products can also be to blame if the hair frequently comes into contact with the face.

Sometimes eczema occurs because the skin is sensitive to sunshine. This may simply be down to genetics or it might be because medications or skincare products have made the skin more sensitive. Antibiotics and diuretics are examples of medications that can increase sun sensitivity. Retinol is a common anti-ageing skincare ingredient that can cause sun sensitivity.

How to get rid of eczema on the face

This is how to get rid of eczema on the face. First, if you know what triggered the eczema, stop exposure to it immediately. For example, if sunlight is a known trigger, apply SPF protection. If you’ve just started using a new skin or makeup product, it stands to reason that could be the cause and you should stop applying it. If you don’t know the cause, move to a gentle skincare and cosmetics regimen. Use gentle, unscented cleansers or a medical emollient as a substitute for soap. Don’t scrub or rub hard at the skin and pat it dry gently with a soft towel.

Apply a medical emollient to hydrate and protect the skin. It’s wise to avoid cosmetic moisturisers as these tend to have a large ingredient list which might contain potential allergens. Your doctor might prescribe a suitable emollient or you can ask your pharmacist for an over-the-counter recommendation. Sometimes doctors prescribe topical anti-inflammatory products that contain steroids. These should be applied as often as directed until the flareup has cleared. Try to avoid scratching the eczema, as tempting as it may be. Doing so could worsen irritation and increase the risk of bacterial infection, broken skin and scarring.

How to prevent eczema on the face

If you’ve had facial eczema in the past you should take steps to minimise the risk of future flare-ups since eczema tends to reoccur in the same places. It goes without saying you should avoid known triggers, so check the ingredients on skincare products before using them if you know what causes your eczema. Avoid using exfoliating scrubs and toners. If you notice scaly patches on the skin, you can use a medical emollient to remove them. Use cool water to wash the face because very hot or very cold water can lead to dryness and irritation.

When trying new facial products, introduce them one at a time so you can identify and eradicate those that are irritating. Mineral makeup tends to be less irritating for people with facial eczema than liquid and oil-based makeup. Keep in mind that stress can trigger or worsen the symptoms of eczema so try to minimise stress. Meditation, mindfulness, exercise and frequent walks in nature can all help to prevent stress.

Drop into our Camberley pharmacy for advice

If you or your child have a rash or dry skin on the face and you’re not sure whether it’s eczema, we’d be happy to help. Pop into our Camberley pharmacy to chat with our friendly pharmacist who will recommend over-the-counter topical treatments and advise you on whether a doctor’s visit is necessary.

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