If you suffer from eczema anywhere on the body, you will know how frustrating, disheartening and sometimes embarrassing it can be. If you happen to have eczema on your face, this may be all the more true for you.Facial eczema is one of the most common skincare conditions affecting those with sensitive skin. If you’re wondering about all things eczema, including eczema causes, symptoms, treatments and more, we are shining a light on this condition and what our Skin Experts recommend to treat it.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:
- What is facial eczema?
- What does it look like?
- What does it feel like?
- What causes facial eczema?
- Are there different types?
- How do I know if it’s eczema or something else?
- How is facial eczema treated?
- What products should I use on facial eczema?
- How can I manage my facial eczema long-term?
- Summary: What do I do if I have facial eczema?
What is facial eczema?
According to the National Eczema Society, facial eczema is a skin condition that can appear on the face. This can be upsetting to some as it is more difficult to hide the symptoms. The skin on our face is much more sensitive than that of the body, so when eczema affects the face it can often be more uncomfortable than elsewhere on the body.
Sometimes facial eczema is a temporary issue that sorts itself out after a few weeks. In other cases, eczema can be an ongoing occurrence that remains on a long-term basis. The most common type is atopic eczema, which affects 1 in 10 adults in the UK, and this might exist on the face alone or alongside other patches on the body.
What does it look like?
Eczema on the face can take several forms, and it often looks different from person to person. The condition stops the skin’s natural barrier from protecting it against outside elements, which makes skin sensitive and reactive to any irritants that may set it off.
The symptoms of facial eczema include redness, blotchy skin, dryness, flaking, rough or bumpy skin, swollen patches, blisters, and cracked skin. Also, sometimes skin can become darker than its usual colour.
What does it feel like?
Often the issue with facial eczema is only partly to do with how the condition looks, and more to do with how it feels. Eczema on the face can feel very raw, sore and itchy, and can cause stinging or burning on skin. Eczema can cause either mild dry skin, or severe and widespread areas of inflammation all over that cause you to itch.
When itching is intense you may need to scratch excessively to find relief, which can disrupt sleep in the worst cases and make skin bleed, as well as creating an infection risk. For these reasons, it is best not to scratch. If you are struggling to avoid this, you should speak to your doctor about prescribing a topical medication that may help ease the intensity of itching.
What causes facial eczema?
There are multiple possible causes of eczema on the face, including:
- A particularly active immune system which mistakes skin cells and environmental allergens as a threat and tries to fight them, causing skin to swell due to inflammation
- Genetic mutations (a history of facial eczema in your family) that affect how proteins in the body maintain the skin barrier that protects against the external environment
- Environmental irritants such as plants, animals, skincare products, clothing fabrics, smoke, humidity, and more
Some other factors that might trigger an eczema flare-up include:
- Soaps, laundry detergents and skincare products
- Dry weather with low humidity
- Wearing makeup
- The material of your clothing
- Smoke and other pollutants in the air
Are there different types?
Eczema is somewhat of an umbrella term encompassing several different skin conditions that cause similar itchy, red skin. In the case of facial eczema, there are 3 main types:
- Atopic dermatitis: This is the most common type, and is usually found on the cheeks and chin. It may also flare up around the eyes, eyelids, or even around the lips. When eczema affects the skin around the eyes or eyelids, these areas may need a little more TLC than the rest, and if you experience any issues such as painful eyes, red eyes, watering eyes or sensitivity to light, speak to a doctor or healthcare expert as soon as you can so they can check there is no damage to your eyes.
- Contact dermatitis: Another very common type which reacts to a specific irritant. The irritants are usually different for everyone. On the face, it is usually found around the eyes, along the hairline, and in places where you may have sprayed perfumes or worn jewellery.
- Seborrheic dermatitis: This type of dermatitis is usually found along the hairline, scalp, eyebrows, outside of the ears, and on the sides of the nose.
How do I know if it’s eczema or something else?
It can be really difficult to tell which kind of eczema you have, or if it is even eczema at all. The best thing to do is to speak to your doctor or skin specialist to get their advice on which condition you may have, and how best to treat it. Remember you can always speak to one of our Skin Experts for general advice on skin conditions such as eczema.
How is facial eczema treated?
Although there is no cure for eczema, there are a few treatments that could help ease your symptoms long-term and help you maintain a healthy, happy lifestyle. The most common treatments for eczema are:
- Daily moisturisers designed specifically for eczema
- Topical corticosteroids that can reduce swelling and redness during eczema flare-ups
- Antihistamines to help calm severe itching
- Bandages and body suits that enable the skin underneath to properly heal
- Dermatologist-approved skincare products (such as the ones we stock at Face Dr)
You can also take measures such as avoiding any triggers that you know will cause flare-ups or irritation to your skin, such as heat, certain soaps or detergents, and wearing certain clothing fabrics — natural materials like cotton can help.
What products should I use on facial eczema?
There are so many products out there formulated specifically for skin with eczema. At Face Dr, our Skin Experts often recommend products within our range that have worked well for many of our clients with facial eczema.
Some examples are ZO Hydrating Cleanser, a dual-action cleanser that is recommended for dry skin, psoriasis and eczema and works to minimise irritation, and ZO Balancing Cleansing Emulsion, which is formulated with a gentle gel-to-milk cleanser that’s clinically proven to support those with sensitive skin and eczema. It’s extra gentle on sensitive skin thanks to its fragrance-free, sulfate-free and dye-free formulation.
If you suffer from eczema, it’s also good to know that products with calming, gentle ingredients like squalane and oatmeal (as mentioned in our article Top 5 skincare ingredients to treat sensitive skin) are great for conditions like this as they work to hydrate and nourish the skin without causing any flare-ups or irritation.
How can I manage my facial eczema long-term?
Managing facial eczema long-term can be tricky, as it often takes a while to find what triggers your flare-ups, and find the right balance of products for your skin. Keeping a diary of any skin issues you experience can be handy as it can alert you to anything that may be triggering flare-ups. Once you figure these out, do what you can to avoid them.
You may also want to invest in a great daily skincare routine that’s designed to help specifically with eczema symptoms. If you are unsure of which products to purchase (and don’t want the hassle of trial and error until you find the best ones!), our Skin Experts can help you with this.
Their experience of all sorts of skin issues enables them to recommend the products and ingredients they have found to be the most effective for clients in the past, and can work with you on an ongoing basis to pivot if anything isn’t working for you.
Summary: What do I do if I have facial eczema?
Facial eczema can be frustrating and painful, but there are ways to manage the condition and minimise symptoms so you can continue to feel confident and enjoy your skin.
We would always recommend booking a no-strings-attached FREE video call with one of our Skin Experts to discuss your symptoms, the history of your eczema, what you have tried in the past, any irritants you have noticed, and more. You could leave your 10-30 minute consultation with a new understanding of your skin, and some great recommendations for skincare products that are most likely to work for you.
Want to minimise your eczema symptoms? Book a consultation with a Skin Expert here:
Want to read more from our blog? Here are some articles that may interest you:
- Dry skin: symptoms and causes
- Is ZO Skin Health's Gentle Cleanser right for me?
- Top 5 skincare ingredients to treat dry skin