Facial Eczema: Dermatologists on How to Treat, Manage, and Prevent It

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Facial eczema has many different symptoms that can manifest themselves differently from person to person, but some common things to look for are red patches, itchy skin, stinging, and dryness. With darker skin tones, it also tends to be scaly, says Dr. Rossi.

Eczema is a common condition that can appear anywhere on the body, but if you’re grappling with facial eczema, it’s likely on the eyelids, eyebrows, cheeks, or chin. And while it is common, you definitely should bring it to your dermatologist. “Eczema that develops near the eyes needs special attention because the eyes themselves can be affected,” adds Dr. Alexiades. “Those with eczema around the eyes are more susceptible to certain eye problems such as conjunctivitis, inflamed cornea, and changes in the shape of the cornea, a condition called keratoconus.”

Causes of Facial Eczema

There are a few different types of facial eczema — which will be key in not just identifying what you’re dealing with, but how you treat it. The most common type of facial eczema is atopic dermatitis. “Atopic dermatitis is genetic and flares can be triggered by dry environmental conditions, not moisturizing, stress, and allergies,” says New York-based board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, MD.

The second type is contact dermatitis, which comes from exposure to an irritating substance or something you may be allergic to (common perpetrators are cosmetics, dyes, soaps, detergents, fragrance, or smoke — in addition to environmental allergens like pet dander or pollen). “Some people break out in an eczema rash after eating certain foods, such as nuts, shellfish, milk, and eggs,” says Dr. Alexiades.

Try to note when you see an eczema flare and note any common denominators to your dermatologist. This should help both you and your dermatologist narrow it down and get to the root cause.

How to Prevent Facial Eczema

The best way to prevent eczema on the face is the most obvious but perhaps the most important method: identify the trigger and remove it. “For example, if you notice red patches when you wear jewelry, you may be allergic to nickel. Stop wearing jewelry and your eczema may go away,” says Dr. Alexiades. “If you notice red itchy patches after a night out, it may be perfume that is your trigger, in which case stop wearing fragrances and look for fragrance-free cosmetics.”

The same goes for cosmetics and skincare. “Know what’s in your skincare and if you’re prone to allergies,” says Dr. Rossi. It may be beneficial to go on a “product diet.” Pare down your routine to one gentle product (a cleanser is a good place to start) and add them back in slowly, one by one, to see if you can identify which product is causing your facial eczema. Patch testing—applying a small amount of a product to the sensitive skin on the inside of the arm to see if there is a reaction within 24 hours—can also help to narrow things down.

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