Weeping Eczema

Weeping eczema is a complication of eczema (dermatitis) that is characterized by fluid-filled blisters on the skin. The condition is caused by prominent inflammation and can make your eczema symptoms worse. Treatments include corticosteroids, antihistamines, and immunosuppressive medications.


Weeping Eczema
Weeping eczema symptoms include redness and fluid-filled blisters.

What is weeping eczema?

Weeping eczema is a term used to describe eczema that oozes clear- to straw-colored fluid. Occasionally weeping eczema is associated with presence of small blisters filled with clear fluid. Weeping eczema is a complication of typical eczema, not a separate condition.


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What’s the difference between weeping eczema and impetigo?

Impetigo and weeping eczema are both skin conditions. While eczema is a type of dermatitis, impetigo is an infection of the skin. With impetigo, blisters and sores usually develop on the nose and mouth. Weeping eczema can occur anywhere on the body and is sometimes accompanied by red or purple blisters that ooze or “weep” clear- to straw-colored fluid.

Occasionally, areas affected by eczema can become infected and ooze pus-colored fluid. When this happens, a different type of treatment is usually needed.

How common is weeping eczema?

This condition is very common. Over 31 million Americans live with some type of eczema or dermatitis, including atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis. All types of eczema can weep, though severity and symptoms can vary.


How does weeping eczema affect my body?

The fluid-filled blisters that appear with weeping eczema ooze, causing wetness on the skin. The fluid dries and results in a yellow-to-orange crusty layer on your skin. Eczema is most common in areas where your skin flexes, such as behind the knees, inside the elbows and in front of the neck. However, it may develop anywhere on your body, including your:

  • Hands.
  • Face.
  • Lips.
  • Arms.
  • Legs.
  • Feet.

Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of weeping eczema?

People with weeping eczema may notice several different symptoms. Common signs include:

  • Blisters or open sores.
  • Drainage on the skin.
  • Burning, itching or soreness of the skin.
  • Redness.
  • Crusting.

In most cases, people with weeping eczema notice other eczema symptoms worsening, such as swelling or dry, itchy skin. Those who have severe cases of weeping eczema may also develop:

  • Fatigue.
  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • Achiness.
  • Swollen lymph nodes, especially in the armpit, neck or groin.


What causes weeping eczema?

Weeping eczema is the result of active inflammation in the skin. Prominent inflammation results in dilation of skin blood vessels. These dilated blood vessels then leak serum into the soft tissue of the skin, causing mild swelling (edema) and oozing of the serum onto the skin surface.

Importantly, when your skin becomes too dry, cracked or inflamed, infection can enter the skin and cause your eczema symptoms to worsen. Infection can occur with weeping eczema, but is a different condition. The most common infection in people with weeping eczema is staph (staphylococcus), a common bacteria. The herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) — the same virus that causes cold sores — can also cause weeping eczema if it enters the skin.

Is weeping eczema contagious?

Eczema and “weeping eczema” themselves aren’t contagious. However, a secondary infection associated with weeping eczema can potentially spread.

Diagnosis and Tests

How is weeping eczema diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your skin to check for eczema symptoms. In some cases, tests may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis. These may include:

  • Blood tests.
  • Allergy skin tests.
  • Skin biopsy.
  • Bacterial culture.

Management and Treatment

How is weeping eczema treated?

Weeping eczema treatment depends on what caused your condition. There are several options that can help manage your symptoms. These include:

  • Corticosteroids: Topical steroids can help reduce inflammation and itchiness. In some cases, your healthcare provider may prescribe oral steroids, such as prednisone.
  • Antihistamines: Commonly used for allergies, these medications are taken in pill form to reduce the itchiness associated with eczema.
  • Immunosuppressants: These medications help lower your body’s immune response. As a result, inflammation is reduced.

If a secondary infection has developed, other medications may be needed.

Are there home remedies for weeping eczema?

Because weeping eczema is infection-related, the only thing that will clear it up completely is prescription medication. However, there are some things you can do at home to ease your symptoms. Weeping eczema home remedies include:

  • Probiotics: Research suggests that topical probiotics may help reduce the severity of eczema symptoms.
  • Natural oils: Coconut oil, olive oil and sunflower seed oil all protect and restore the skin. They also help reduce inflammation.
  • Vitamins and supplements: Fatty acids — such as black currant seed and evening primrose — are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 can also help improve common eczema symptoms.
  • Colloidal oatmeal bath: This remedy helps soothe and relieve dry, itchy skin caused by eczema.
  • Diluted bleach bath: Adding a very small amount of bleach to your bathwater can help kill bacteria on your skin. In turn, this can reduce redness, itching and scaling. When properly diluted and used sparingly, bleach baths are safe. (Taking too many can dry out your skin too much, though.) Talk to your healthcare provider before incorporating bleach baths into your regimen.


Can I prevent weeping eczema?

While you may not be able to prevent eczema, you can prevent it from becoming infected and weeping. Routine skincare management can help keep your condition in check. Here are some recommendations:

  • Choose shampoos and cleansers that are dye- and perfume-free.
  • Moisturize twice a day with emollient-rich cream.
  • Take antihistamines to keep itching at bay.
  • Use steroid creams to reduce inflammation.
  • Consider adding dietary supplements like vitamin D and vitamin B12 to your daily routine.
  • Find ways to relax and reduce stress, such as meditation or mindfulness.

Outlook / Prognosis

What can I expect if I have weeping eczema?

When treated promptly, weeping eczema should clear up within two weeks. People with severe cases may develop scarring.

Left untreated, weeping eczema can lead to more severe symptoms and an increased risk of developing secondary infections. If you develop the condition, it’s important to seek medical care immediately.

Living With

When should I see my healthcare provider?

If you have eczema that starts to weep, call your healthcare provider right away. Prompt treatment will help get your infection under control and ease uncomfortable symptoms.

Additional Common Questions

How can I manage weeping eczema on my lips?

First, see your healthcare provider so you can begin appropriate treatment. In the meantime, keep your lips moisturized with lip balm or petroleum jelly. Your provider may also recommend a topical cortisone cream.

What should I do if my baby has weeping eczema?

If your baby’s eczema starts to weep, call your healthcare provider so they can help get it under control. To ease symptoms, you can apply steroid cream or ointments. You may also want to consider giving your baby antihistamines for a few days to relieve itching.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Typical eczema is itchy and inconvenient. But when it begins to weep, it becomes a more serious health problem. If you develop weeping eczema, schedule a visit with your healthcare provider right away. Timely treatment will clear up your infection and reduce painful symptoms so you can get back to normal life.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 10/29/2021.

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