You Can Get Eczema Where?
Judi Ebbert, PhD, MPH, RN | Dec 8, 2017
Eczema can occur anywhere there is skin
Eczema in adults is a chronic inflammatory condition of the skin, which is the largest organ in the human body. While particular sites are more commonly affected, eczema can erupt wherever there is skin. That means it can occur anywhere and everywhere on the body, attacking the outer skin layer that acts as a protective barrier. When inflamed by eczema, the outer layer itches intensely. Scratching “breaks” the barrier, exacerbating the rash and increasing risk for infection.
How common or uncommon are flare-ups on various body sites?
Eczema in adults most often occurs on the hands and feet, the back of the neck, behind the knees and the inner crease of the arm, on the opposite side of the elbow. Those areas are the most common site of eczema flare-ups in adults. We have researched less common areas, and we will explain them in the following frames.
Eczema of the face causes itchy red patches to form on the cheeks and forehead and around the nose. While the first instinct is to cover it up with makeup, that may only irritate and worsen the outbreak. It’s extremely important to resist the urge to scratch. The less scratching, the less chance for infection and scarring. Use gentle, nonsoapy cleansers and ask your doctor about prescription medications to accelerate the healing process.
Eczema can rear its ugly head on the scalp, causing itching and flaking and the urge to scratch. Resist that urge, and consider the likely culprit behind the flare-up. Whatever’s in that shampoo or conditioner, like a fragrance or other chemical might be at the root of the outbreak. Put those products aside and use shampoos with tar, zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide or ketoconazole until the problem resolves.
Eczema can affect the entire ear, from the outer ear into the canal, where it can cause skin loss, soreness and infection. It’s extremely important to seek a doctor’s help to prevent permanent damage that might result from infection. Diagnosing ear eczema requires use of a special instrument by a board-certified primary care doctor. Ear eczema is a particularly irritating condition that requires appropriate intervention.
Unsightly eczema can attack the delicate thin-skinned lids that protect our eyes. Eyelid eczema requires very special care. Physicians may prescribe special emollients and mild steroids—the skin around the eye is already thin, and additional steroid-induced thinning should be avoided. There are emollient moisturizers specifically for use around the eyes. Avoid soap and perfumes, which would likely worsen the outbreak.
Some eczema sufferers endure repeated outbreaks between the buttocks, or perianal eczema. Eczema can also affect the tissue around the anus. Perianal and anal eczema cause great discomfort that can interfere with activities like sitting at a desk or riding in a vehicle. Discussing the symptoms with others may cause embarrassment, adding emotional strain to the physical discomfort. It’s a bummer–especially if shame stops the sufferer from reaching out for help.
Breasts and Nipples
Eczema knows no boundaries and can inflame breasts and nipples as a result of chemicals in ointments, friction from clothing, too much suction from a breast pump, temperature extremes and irritants and allergens. Itching and burning create great discomfort, warranting a search and elimination of possible offenders like fragrances, dyes, synthetic fabrics and harsh soaps. Use of an emollient and medication prescribed by a doctor can bring relief.
Vagina and vulva
Some women get eczema in the vagina and vulva. Contributors to the condition may be friction, perspiration, synthetic fabrics and chemicals in soaps. It is important to have an accurate diagnosis because there are other disorders that may have symptoms similar to genital eczema. Relief through treatment is a priority that leaves no room for embarrassment!
Don’t suffer in silence!
Skin is skin, no matter where it is on the body. Some cultures consider genitalia out-of-sight, out-of-mind, and outside acceptable discourse. What a shame that some people, thus, feel ashamed to seek attainable relief. Never let embarrassment impede your ability to reach out for help and take advantage of treatment that will resolve the problem. Eczema doesn’t discriminate, and neither should we!