Flexural eczema is a chronic condition. It typically causes red, irritated, and itchy patches of skin to appear around the creases of the joints, most frequently the elbows and knees.

Eczema is the term for a group of skin conditions that cause irritated, red, and itchy skin. The most common form of eczema is atopic dermatitis.

Flexural eczema describes the location where an eczema rash occurs. It appears around the creases of the joints, most frequently the elbows and knees. It can also occur at the ankles, wrists, and neck. Flexural eczema most commonly appears in late childhood and adulthood.

Here’s everything you need to know about flexural eczema.

Flexural eczema causes red, irritated, and itchy patches of skin to appear on the skin near your or your child’s joints. The condition is chronic, which means you might notice that symptoms clear up for a while only to return again several weeks, months, or years later.

Typically, an eczema rash starts as itchy skin. Once you or your child starts scratching it, the rash will develop.

Eczema can affect a person at any age and can continue into adulthood in some more severe cases, but it can look different based on age.

While babies tend to have eczema on the face, scalp, and extensors, like the front of the knee or back of the elbow, children between 2 years old and adolescence are more likely to develop the itchy rash around the creases in their elbows and knees. Other areas of eczema that are common in this age group are the neck, wrists, and ankles.

Other symptoms and signs of eczema in children can include:

  • itchy, scaly patches
  • rash that appears in the knee or elbow creases or in other areas of the body
  • darkening or lightening of skin near the rashes
  • permanent goose bumps
  • thickened skin that develops from chronic itching or rubbing

The exact cause of eczema is still unknown, but researchers have some ideas. According to the National Eczema Association, causes of eczema include:

  • genetics, which may influence whether someone develops eczema as a child
  • environmental factors, also known as triggers, like allergens, chemicals, or other stimuli that causes eczema to start or flare

Children or adults living with eczema may also have an overactive immune system. In this case, the immune system overreacts to a substance outside or inside the body, which results in inflammation.

Evidence suggests that people with eczema may have a mutation in the FLG gene that encodes a protein called filaggrin. Filaggrin helps create a protective barrier between the skin and the outside world. Without a sufficient barrier, your skin or your child’s skin can become dry and prone to infection.

Eczema does not have a cure, but you can take steps to help lessen the severity of symptoms and prevent flares for you or your child.

Medical treatments can involve both topical and systemic medications. During a flare, you can apply topical medications, such as topical calcineurin inhibitors (TCIs) and steroids, directly to the affected skin.

Your doctor may also recommend phototherapy to topically treat eczema. Phototherapy involves using light to help reduce the severity of an eczema flare and help heal the skin.

A doctor may also recommend taking systemic medications such as methotrexate, cyclosporine, and mycophenolate mofetil. Additionally, over 40 clinical trials are underway or in the process of getting approval, which means new medications may eventually become available that better treat eczema.

You or your child may also find some relief with complementary therapies. Some techniques include meditation, hypnosis, and biofeedback.

Some at-home treatments may also help improve flexural eczema symptoms. These include:

  • oatmeal baths
  • cool compresses
  • petroleum jelly or other moisturizing cream or ointment
  • finding distractions from the itch

Taking steps to avoid known triggers can help prevent flexural eczema flares. It is important to take time to set up a treatment plan for flexural eczema.

Several treatment options can help prevent flares. For example, systematic medications can have a preventive effect on flexural eczema. Keeping your or your child’s skin moisturized can also help prevent new flares from occurring.

Research shows that most children will “outgrow” eczema by the time they are adults. However, several factors can make lifelong eczema more likely. The following factors affect whether eczema will subside or go away completely over time:

  • severity of the condition, as more severe cases are more likely to continue into adulthood
  • time of onset, as eczema that appears later in life is more likely to last
  • persistency of the condition

Flexural eczema is a type of eczema that appears around the creases of joints, often on the elbows and knees. It causes an itchy rash to form. Children may be more likely to develop flexural eczema, though it can occur in adults as well. If your child develops eczema, there is a chance that it will go away as they age.

There are many treatment options for eczema, like topical medications, systemic medications, and home remedies. Talk with your doctor about creating a treatment plan that is right for you or your child’s eczema.