Eczema on the face tends to cause dryness and irritation. There’s no cure for eczema, but keeping your skin moisturized, avoiding excess sun exposure, and other strategies may help minimize symptoms.

Eczema is a chronic inflammatory condition characterized by dry, itchy, flaky, and rough skin patches.

Eczema on the face, also known as facial eczema, can be uncomfortable and painful. There’s currently no cure for the skin condition. However, some treatment options could provide pain relief and help manage your symptoms.

Keep reading to learn more about how eczema can affect your face, as well as treatment options and prevention tips.

Facial eczema is when you experience symptoms of eczema on your face.

A 2022 review suggests that facial eczema differs from body eczema due to differences in:

  • skin microbiome
  • natural moisturization levels
  • sebaceous glands concentration

The skin on your face is typically more sensitive than the skin on other areas of your body. It’s also more exposed to environmental stressors. So, facial eczema can feel especially uncomfortable and even painful.

According to the National Eczema Society (NES), symptoms of facial eczema may include:

  • dry, flaky, and crusty scabs
  • tight, hot, and itchy skin
  • sores and scarring caused by scratching
  • discoloration, such as red, white, or purple bumps depending on your skin color
  • rash, blisters, or cracked skin

Facial eczema occurs in both children and adults.

You may experience eczema flare-ups, which is when your symptoms worsen for some time. Flare-ups are typically followed by periods of remission. This is when your symptoms subside or leave altogether.

It’s important to note that eczema is not contagious.

Here’s a look at five types of eczema that may affect your face.

1. Atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis (AD) is the most common form of eczema in children, according to the NES. Symptoms typically develop before the age of 5 years and may include:

  • dry, discolored skin patches
  • rashes
  • skin thickening

Scratching any of these areas may lead to blistering, fluid oozing, or bleeding.

AD typically affects infants in the first few months of their lives, appearing in different places like:

  • the cheeks
  • around the mouth
  • in the neck folds
  • the eyelids

After 1 year, AD may spread to other parts of the body, such as the bend of the arms and legs.

Most children outgrow their eczema by the time they reach their teenage years. However, AD is a chronic condition. This means that while symptoms may improve after a few weeks, they usually return throughout a person’s life.

2. Seborrheic dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis (SD), also known as dandruff, is the most common type of eczema in adults, according to NES.

It’s triggered by an overgrowth of the yeast Malassezia and typically affects the face, scalp, and chest.

Symptoms of facial SD may include dry, itchy, flaky, and discolored skin. It could affect several parts of your face, including:

  • ears
  • forehead
  • eyebrows
  • eyelids
  • hairline
  • nose
  • mouth

SD can develop in babies and adults. It’s known as cradle cap in babies and typically lasts until about 6 months of age.

3. Irritant contact dermatitis

Irritant contact dermatitis is when you develop eczema symptoms after coming into contact with something. This may include products you use on your face, such as:

  • facial washes
  • exfoliating creams
  • makeup
  • sunscreen
  • other cosmetic products

Facial irritant contact dermatitis may also be caused by natural irritants. This may include exposure to wind, snow, and rain during the cold winter months.

This type of eczema affects people of all ages. Infants may have symptoms around their mouth due to repeated licking and excessive moisture from drooling.

4. Allergic contact dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis differs from irritant contact dermatitis because it’s an allergic response on the face.

If you’re allergic to an ingredient in a skin-care product or other products that come in contact with your face, your immune system triggers a response. This causes eczema and allergy symptoms, such as:

  • dryness
  • hives
  • itchiness
  • redness

Allergic and irritant contact dermatitis can affect other areas of the body, too.

5. Light sensitive eczema

You may develop facial eczema if you’re sensitive to sunlight and humidity, according to the NES. Sunlight sensitivity is usually the result of other factors, such as:

  • having AD, SD, or allergic dermatitis
  • taking certain medications, such as diuretics, antibiotics, or high-blood-pressure medicines

Light sensitive eczema may cause typical eczema symptoms such as dry, flaky, and itchy patches of skin. It may also cause you to burn more easily. It usually affects the areas of skin that are most exposed to sunlight, such as your neck, arms, and face.

Light sensitive eczema is common in children but also affects adults.

Here are images of facial eczema in adults, children, and babies.

The exact cause of eczema is still up in the air, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association. However, genetics, environmental irritants, and a weakened immune system may all play a role in its development.

A trigger is usually responsible for causing your symptoms of eczema to flare up. Eczema triggers may include:

  • stress
  • exposure to sunlight
  • hormonal changes
  • sweat from exercising
  • cold, dry weather
  • cigarette smoke
  • scented products
  • food allergies
  • eating inflammatory foods
  • using cosmetic products, such as hair dyes, makeup, and nail polish
  • having an underlying medical condition, such as Parkinson’s disease or lymphoma cancer
  • taking certain medications, such as auranofin, fluorouracil, and griseofulvin

Identifying and avoiding your triggers is the best way to treat and prevent facial eczema flare-ups.

There’s currently no cure for eczema. However, treatment for facial eczema aims to help relieve your symptoms, decrease inflammation, and increase your quality of life.

Your treatment plan will depend on the type of eczema that’s causing your symptoms, as well as their severity. This may include a combination of natural remedies and over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications.


Moisturizers can help protect the outer layer of skin that’s been damaged by eczema, according to the National Eczema Association (NEA). This can help reduce dryness, promote healing, and reduce symptoms.

The NEA suggests choosing moisturizers that are hypoallergenic, eczema-friendly, and fragrance-free.

It’s important to remember that ingredients in moisturizers could also trigger a flare-up for some people. A product labeled as “sensitive” doesn’t mean that it can’t irritate.

Speak with a healthcare professional or pharmacist about the best moisturizer for your eczema.


If OTC moisturizers don’t work, a doctor may prescribe a medication to help reduce inflammation. This may include:

  • topical corticosteroids
  • antihistamines
  • light therapy
  • biologics
  • Janise kinase (JAK) inhibitors
  • steroid-free topicals, such as crisaborole
  • immune modulators, such as topical tacrolimus and pimecrolimus

Here are some tips to help prevent facial eczema.

  • Apply moisturizer to your face twice a day.
  • Avoid products that irritate your skin, such as some cleansing soaps, exfoliating creams, and toners.
  • Don’t apply makeup during a flare. This can irritate eczema symptoms.
  • Wear sunscreen and avoid extreme heat and humidity.
  • Use fragrance-free products.
  • Pat your face dry with a soft towel instead of rubbing your skin.
  • Treat other allergy symptoms, which could trigger facial eczema or make it worse.

How do I get rid of eczema on my face?

Treatment options for facial eczema may include:

  • natural remedies, such as wet wrapping and avoiding triggers
  • OTC moisturizers
  • prescription medications, such as biologics, topical corticosteroids, and light therapy

Does Vaseline help eczema?

Vaseline is a brand name for petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly may help moisturize and protect your skin because it creates a thick protective barrier that retains moisture. A 2022 study recommends applying petroleum jelly as needed, as opposed to other emollients.

Facial eczema is a chronic condition that may require lifelong treatment. Although there’s currently no cure, treatment options may provide symptom relief and help improve your quality of life.

See a doctor if self-treatment and over-the-counter products aren’t resolving your facial eczema. They can help develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.