Eczema on Face

Eczema on your face is a condition that makes your skin itchy, dry and flaky. Eczema prevents your skin’s protective barrier from functioning as it should, which can make your skin sensitive to irritants and allergens. There’s no cure for eczema on your face, but treatment is available to help your symptoms go away.

Overview

A person with eczema on their face has dry skin and redness on their cheek and forehead.
Eczema on your face causes dry, flaky and itchy skin that’s common on your cheeks and forehead.

What is eczema on your face?

Eczema on your face, or facial eczema, is a condition that can make the skin on your face dry, flaky and itchy. Eczema prevents your skin’s natural barrier from outside elements to function properly. This makes your skin sensitive, so it can easily react to irritants and allergens in your environment, which cause flares.

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What are the types of facial eczema?

Several different types of eczema can form on your face. Some of the most common include:

It’s possible to have more than one type of eczema that can form on your body at one time.

Who does facial eczema affect?

Eczema on the face can affect anyone. It’s more common among people who have:

Women or people assigned female at birth are more likely to get eczema.

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How common is eczema on your face?

Just over 10% of the United States population have a form of eczema, which equals about 1 in 10 people. Symptoms of eczema are unique to each person and can affect different locations on your body including your face.

Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of eczema on your face?

Symptoms of eczema on your face range from mild to severe and include:

  • Swelling (inflammation).
  • Itchy skin.
  • A rash with red to purple to dark brown skin discoloration.
  • Dry, scaly or flaky patches of skin.
  • Sore feeling.
  • Wrinkled skin underneath your eyes.
  • Small bumps or blisters.

You’ll experience symptoms of facial eczema on your skin from your chin to your forehead. Your cheeks are the most common site where eczema on your face could appear.

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What causes eczema on your face?

Multiple factors cause eczema on your face, including:

  • Irritants in your environment: Whether you have allergies or not, there’s a lot in your environment that can cause skin irritation, including but not limited to, plants or animals, soaps and detergents, clothing fabrics, pollutants like smoke in the air and the humidity level.
  • An over-reactive immune system: Your immune system helps your body fight foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses that can make you sick. If you have eczema, your immune system can mistake your skin cells, small irritants or allergens in your environment as foreign invaders and attacks them. This causes your skin to swell (inflammation) and become itchy.
  • Genetics: Your genes are the building blocks of your body. A change to your DNA sequence (genetic mutation) can affect how proteins in your body maintain the barrier in your skin that protects you from your environment. You could be more at risk of developing facial eczema if you have a history of the condition in your biological family.

What triggers eczema on your face?

Each person diagnosed with eczema on their face has unique triggers that cause their symptoms to flare up. Some of the most common triggers for eczema could include:

  • Soaps and detergents.
  • Dry weather (low humidity).
  • Contact with an allergen.
  • Makeup.
  • Fabrics or clothing material.
  • Smoke and pollutants.
  • Stress.

Is facial eczema contagious?

Eczema isn’t a contagious condition. You can’t pass eczema on your face to another person by physical or close contact.

Diagnosis and Tests

How is eczema on your face diagnosed?

To diagnose eczema on your face, your provider will examine your skin to look for signs of eczema like patches of dry skin and skin discoloration. If your symptoms look similar to other skin conditions, your provider will offer tests to confirm a diagnosis, rule out other conditions or determine the cause of your symptoms. Tests could include:

Management and Treatment

How is eczema on your face treated?

Treatment for eczema on your face is unique to your skin and what caused your flare-up. Treatment could include:

  • Using gentle or sensitive skin moisturizers or lotions.
  • Applying anti-inflammatory medications (topical steroids or topical calcineurin inhibitors) to your skin.
  • Light therapy to reduce the appearance of skin blemishes.
  • Taking medications like antihistamines, corticosteroids to reduce swelling and inflammation or immunosuppressant drugs to regulate the function of your immune system.

Before starting treatment with a new medication or drug, talk to your provider about the possible side effects, frequency and dosage of when you should take the medication to avoid interactions.

What moisturizers, creams or cleansers should I use for eczema on my face?

While there are multiple types of moisturizers available on the market, the kind of moisturizer, cream or cleanser that you choose can have an impact on how your skin heals or reacts.

Choose skin care products that:

  • Are fragrance-free and dye-free.
  • Are gentle or designed for sensitive skin.
  • Contain oils (petroleum jelly and mineral oil) or are greasy (ointments or creams).
  • Doesn’t include preservatives or stabilizers (skin irritants).
  • Improve your skin’s natural barrier (lipids and ceramides).

Every person has unique qualities to their skin that react differently to skincare products. The moisturizer that works best for you might not work for someone else. If you’re unsure about what type of moisturizer to use on your skin, talk to your healthcare provider.

How soon after treatment will I feel better?

After treatment for a flare of eczema symptoms, it could take several weeks before your skin clears up completely. Treatment from your provider or dermatologist helps your symptoms go away faster. You can prevent future flares by avoiding irritants and allergens that caused your symptoms and using a moisturizer on your skin regularly to rehydrate your skin.

Prevention

How can I prevent eczema flares on my face?

You can’t prevent all cases of eczema, but you can reduce your risk of flare-ups by:

  • Avoiding allergens in your environment.
  • Avoiding skin irritants like certain soaps and makeups.
  • Apply a gentle, sensitive skin moisturizer to your skin throughout the day.

Outlook / Prognosis

What can I expect if I have eczema on my face?

Eczema is a lifelong condition without a cure. Your symptoms can flare up on your face if you interact with environmental triggers like irritants and allergens. It takes several weeks before your symptoms go away, even with treatment.

Frequently apply unscented moisturizers designed to treat eczema to your skin throughout the day. The best times to apply moisturizer to your skin is in the morning when you wake up, every few hours to prevent dry skin throughout the day, after a bath or a shower when your skin is damp, and before you go to bed. Your provider might offer a medicated topical cream or ointment to treat your eczema during a flare.

Some people diagnosed with eczema on their face might experience low self-esteem, as their symptoms are visible on their skin when they enter social settings. It’s challenging to hide facial eczema because makeup can further irritate your skin and delay your healing time. If your eczema causes emotional distress or your symptoms get worse instead of better, contact your provider.

Will eczema on my face go away?

Yes, eczema on your face will go away, but it could take up to several weeks with treatment. Eczema is a chronic condition that can return to your face after it goes away. The best way to prevent a flare of eczema symptoms on your face is to avoid irritants and allergens and regularly moisturize your skin. If your eczema doesn’t seem to go away, talk to your provider about medication to treat your symptoms.

Living With

When should I see my healthcare provider?

Visit your healthcare provider if your symptoms get worse or don’t improve after several weeks. Talk to your provider if your skin reacts negatively to a moisturizer or topical medication, especially if it causes a rash or pain.

What questions should I ask my doctor?

  • How do I prevent eczema flares on my face?
  • Am I allergic to anything?
  • What caused my eczema to flare?
  • What types of moisturizers do you recommend?
  • How often should I apply a moisturizer to my skin?
  • Are there side effects to the medication you prescribed?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Eczema on your face is a chronic condition that can affect your skin throughout your life. The condition can flare up unexpectedly or happen if you interact with skin irritants and allergens. As eczema can affect your appearance, some people experience self-esteem concerns after a facial eczema diagnosis. Talk to your provider or a mental health professional if your skin affects your ability to thrive socially. To prevent future flares, use moisturizer regularly to keep your skin hydrated.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/16/2023.

Learn more about our editorial process.

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