If you or your child has eczema, you’re probably no stranger to the itching, inflammation, and rash-like symptoms it can cause. You can get eczema anywhere on your body. The exact location depends in part on your age, says Kalyani Marathe, MD, a pediatric dermatologist and director of the dermatology division at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
Infants tend to get eczema on:
- Back of arms or legs
Older children and teens tend to have symptoms in the folds or where they sweat, such as:
- Inside elbows
- On the back of the knees
- Sometimes on the hands or feet
Adults are more likely to get eczema on their hands, Marathe says, perhaps because they wash their hands and do the dishes more. It is also common for symptoms to appear on:
Adults are less likely to have facial and scalp eczema, Marathe says.
Both adults and children can suffer from eyelid eczema, she says. This is often due to an allergic reaction to something that touches the skin.
Use of medication on difficult-to-treat spots
The amount and type of treatment that’s right for you or your child also depends on where the eczema is, says Marathe. Some areas are more difficult to treat than others.
Treatment can be trickier when eczema breaks out on areas of your body with thinner skin, such as your lips, eye area, and groin area.
Steroids, the most common treatment, can lighten your skin if overused, which can lead to bruising and tearing, says Steve Daveluy MD, associate professor and program director at Wayne State Dermatology in Michigan. Accidentally having steroids in your eyes can also increase your chances of developing a temporary type of glaucoma, which could affect your vision, he says.
Still, you can safely use low-potency (weaker) steroids on your face and groin, Daveluy says. You just have to be careful. Work with your dermatologist to make sure you’re using the right dose for the right amount of time, and call them right away if you have any side effects.
Your dermatologist may also recommend nonsteroidal medications, such as those called topical calcineurin inhibitors. “They’re great because they don’t have the same side effects as steroids – they don’t thin the skin, there’s no risk of glaucoma – so they’re very safe to use on the face and on skin. genitals, says Daveluy. The only possible downsides, he says, are that they can sting a bit at first, and getting your insurance to cover them could be a hindrance.
Home remedies for hard-to-treat spots
Want to try some home remedies to relieve your symptoms? The types that might help also depend in part on where the eczema appears. (Note: Talk to your doctor before trying any home remedies on a baby.)
Wet wraps, which can help medications work better, work well on parts of the body where the skin is thicker, such as the legs, feet, hands, wrists and forearms, says Marathe. To make a wet wrap:
- Put on your meds.
- Cover the affected part of the body with plastic wrap for 30 minutes.
- Remove the wrap and moisturize your skin.
You can do the same with store-bought tubular dressings. The only difference is that you soak them in lukewarm water and wring them out so they’re damp when you put them on, Marathe says.
If your little one has eczema, you can do something similar if they wear long-sleeved pajamas at night: soak the pajamas in lukewarm water, then put them in the dryer for a few seconds to they are humid but hot. “Sometimes the kids sleep in it, so [parents] put dry pajamas on top, ”says Marathe. “Some kids really like it because it feels cool, but for others it’s too cold for them, so they don’t really like it.”
A few home remedies for the whole body can also help. “Diluted bleach baths are great for people of all ages and we recommend them for children as well,” says Marathe. You can enjoy the benefits of swimming in a chlorinated pool or by doing a bleach bath at home. Use a quarter cup of regular – non-concentrated – bleach for half a jar of water, or half a cup for a jar full of water, she says. Whether you’re going for a swim in a pool or taking a bleach bath, it’s important to shower or rinse off right after. If the chlorine dries on your skin, it’s likely you’re more itchy, says Marathe.
A little sun can also help relieve itchy eczema, she says. Go out for 15 minutes without sunscreen before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m., when the sun’s ultraviolet rays are weaker.
Here are some other ways to relieve itching in hard-to-treat areas:
Hydrate. To prevent your skin from becoming dry, inflamed, and itchy, your daily moisturizer is essential, says Daveluy. Choose one that doesn’t have a lot of scents and scents, which can irritate the skin. The most important thing is to find one that you like and that you will use at least once a day, he says. “Most people need it more than once a day.”
Wash off the pollen. If you notice your eczema getting worse during the pollen season, rinse your face after you have been outside for
a moment, Daveluy said. Apply moisturizer right after.
Refresh yourself. Instead of scratching or rubbing a lot, which can damage the skin, relieve the itchiness with an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas. “Ice soothes the itch really well, because the same nerves that feel the itch are cold,” he says.
Make a soothing mask. “You can make a face mask out of rice paper, like the one they use to make spring rolls or fresh rolls,” Daveluy explains. “You basically cut eye holes and a mouth hole … and then you wet it.” [with water]. You can put it on to soothe the skin, as it has natural moisturizing effects thanks to the starch in the rice. Some people even wear it to bed. You may want to cut the rice paper in half before you wet it, as it can be difficult to handle.
Try the massage. If your child’s face itches at night, apply some moisturizer to their skin before bed, Daveluy says. “They did studies that found that massage can be soothing for children with eczema and help them fall asleep. And it can actually help improve eczema, probably helping it calm down a bit.
Buy with confidence. Talk to your dermatologist before using over-the-counter products for your groin, especially for female genitals. Many of these products contain many ingredients that can irritate eczema, Daveluy explains.