How Eczema on the Face Is Treated – Verywell Health

Elizabeth is a former ER nurse and current nurse writer specializing in health content for businesses, patients, and healthcare providers.
Casey Gallagher, MD, is board-certified in dermatology and works as a practicing dermatologist and clinical professor.
Eczema (atopic dermatitis) can occur anywhere on the body but can be exceptionally irritating when it appears on the face, around the eyes, or on the lips.
Eczema is a skin condition that causes red, itchy, and dry skin. Food allergens, skin irritants, changes in outside temperature, stress, or hormonal changes can trigger eczema flare-ups.
This article explains the most common treatments for eczema on the face, including lifestyle changes and home remedies, creams and oral medications, and procedures.
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Research suggests that people with eczema have a gene mutation that affects the skin barrier. Certain substances trigger an immune response because the skin cannot effectively block allergens or irritants.
Many people can effectively manage their eczema by identifying and avoiding triggers and through good skin care practices.
Environmental triggers can play a big role in eczema flare-ups. Allergy testing can help identify particular triggers.
Common eczema triggers include:
In one study, researchers failed to find a link between gluten and eczema among 63,443 people diagnosed with eczema. Speak to your healthcare provider if you are concerned about your diet and eczema symptoms.
Sometimes, small lifestyle changes can improve eczema symptoms. Some lifestyle changes include:
Intense itching at night can make it hard to sleep. Anxiety or stress about flare-ups on the face can increase cortisol, a stress hormone, making it harder to treat eczema. That's why it's also important to manage stress while treating eczema.
People with eczema should follow basic skin care guidelines to minimize flare-ups. Eczema-prone skin is more likely to lose moisture and natural oils, so it’s especially important to use products that help replace lost moisture.
Other skin care tips for eczema on the face include:
Sun exposure can help improve symptoms for some individuals with mild-to-moderate eczema. This may work by triggering the release of certain compounds in the skin that reduce inflammation and minimize the impact of bacteria, fungi, or viruses on the skin.
Sun exposure might not work for all eczema, and too much sun can worsen symptoms. It's also important to use sunscreen to block harmful UVA and UVB rays.

Over-the-counter (OTC) therapies for eczema on the face include moisturizers and hydrocortisone cream.

Moisturizers are a critical element of eczema treatment and prevention. Appropriate use of moisturizers minimizes itching and protects the skin barrier, which can reduce flare-ups and other symptoms. Some things to keep in mind when choosing a moisturizer include:
Hydrocortisone cream can relieve itching and swelling. This medication is a topical steroid, and it works by suppressing chemicals that cause inflammation.
Hydrocortisone should only be used for a short time, and it's important to be very careful when applying it near the eyes. Common side effects include stinging, burning, redness, and dryness. It can also cause discoloration or skin thinning, especially if overused.
Prescription medications for eczema are typically reserved for more severe cases after lifestyle changes and OTC treatments fail to provide relief.
In addition to topical steroids, some of the most common prescription treatments for eczema include:

It’s important to follow your healthcare provider’s directions carefully because not all medications are suitable for use on the face. Overusing certain medications, like topical steroids, can cause problems like irreversible skin atrophypustular psoriasis, and corticosteroid withdrawal.
Specialty procedures may help treat eczema if lifestyle or other medications aren't enough. Some are performed by healthcare providers, while others can be used at home.
Wet wrap therapy is an option for individuals with severe, difficult-to-treat eczema. This treatment can help rehydrate the skin and improve the absorption of topical medications.
Phototherapy is usually reserved when first-line treatments fail or for cases of moderate-to-severe eczema. It is performed in a healthcare provider’s office and involves exposing skin to controlled UVA or UVB light bursts.

There are few proven complementary and alternative therapies for eczema. Some promising CAM options for eczema include:
Speaking to your healthcare provider before starting any complementary therapies is essential. Your provider can ensure that any changes you make are safe and do not interfere with your treatment plan.
Eczema on the face can be troubling and uncomfortable. However, many people relieve their eczema symptoms by identifying and avoiding triggers, following good skin care routines, and using OTC or prescription medications for flare-ups or severe cases.

You're not alone if you suffer from uncomfortable or itchy eczema on your face. Thankfully, many well-established treatment options can help minimize symptoms. Be sure to speak to your healthcare provider to help establish a treatment plan that minimizes exposure to eczema triggers and supports a healthy skin barrier.

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By Elizabeth Morrill, RN
Elizabeth Morrill is a former ER nurse and current nurse writer specializing in health content for businesses, patients, and healthcare providers. Her career has spanned the globe, from Bosnia-Herzegovina to Colombia to Guatemala. You can find her online at

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