Treating Adult Eczema

Adult eczema can be not only embarrassing but also uncomfortable.  Those of us who suffer with this condition often find ourselves having outbreaks just as we are about to give public presentations or go on job interviews.  Even if the flare-ups are out of sight, the itching and skin irritation is a constant reminder of our conditions.  For this reason, it is important for us to take proper measures to treat adult eczema.

What is adult eczema?

Adult eczema, known clinically as “Adult Atopic Dermatitis,” is a skin disorder characterized by irritated, flaky dry skin that is easily prone to rupture.  This condition is common in newborns and small children but only continues into adulthood in less than half of cases.

In adults, atopic dermatitis often clusters around certain body parts, although it may occur virtually anywhere on the surface of the skin.  Typically, it will occur on the hands since they are the parts most likely to contact irritants.  Eczema may also occur around the nipples in women—especially when breastfeeding.

Although there is no final “cure” for adult eczema, there are several actions you can take to treat it.

Avoid the Foods that Cause Eczema

Although it is less common in adults, certain foods are often causes of atopic dermatitis.  If you know that soups, milk, or any other kind of food sets you off, be sure to avoid these foods. 

Avoid Detergents and Other Irritants

One of the most common irritants for adult eczema is detergents.  Sometimes buying a hypoallergenic detergent will help you keep your skin from having a reaction.  Many atopic dermatitis sufferers find this a beneficial precaution. 

Similarly, air conditioning and heating systems can dry the skin and exacerbate atopic dermatitis.  If it is not possible to stay out of air-conditioned rooms, then you should keep your skin moisturized to avoid dryness.  (If you have lichenized skin, however, you should avoid moisturizing—see below.)

Reduce Stress

Studies have found a link between atopic dermatitis in adults and stress.  Actions you take to reduce stress will help you to keep from having stress-related outbreaks.  A good way of reducing stress is to exercise, sleep well, and eat a healthy balanced diet.  All of these will improve your overall health and have a beneficial effect on your skin.
Avoid Sunburn

As the summer rolls around many of us love to hit the outdoors.  This is a good thing and it certainly helps in terms of converting vitamin D.  However, if you suffer from adult eczema it can cause problems on two fronts.  First, sunburn may further irritate your skin.  Therefore, if you have an eczema outbreak, you will want to cover it up so you don’t irritate it further.

Another consideration is your sun block.  Sun block is great for avoiding sunburn, but if you suffer from eczema, your sun block may have chemicals that intensify or bring on your outbreak.


Most atopic dermatitis suffers find that having a bottle of moisturizer present at all times is a good way to avoid drying out.  This works very well unless you have lichenafication of the skin, in which case you will want to avoid moisturizing.


Lichenification is one of the extreme forms that adult eczema can take.  When this happens, the skin looks like a desert floor, extremely cracked and dry.  Moisturizing doesn’t work as well at this stage.  Instead, you should get a prescription from a dermatologist so that you can get an anti-inflammatory or an antihistamine.  Often your doctor will prescribe a steroid gel to apply directly to the surface of the skin. 

One of the big risks involved when you have atopic dermatitis is that you will get a bacterial infection like MRSA—also known as a staphylococcus infection.  These highly contagious infections are even more dangerous when they contact irritated skin with cuts.  They can get underneath the skin and do some real damage.




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