How to Heal Adult Onset Eczema

adult onset eczema

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Eczema is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that’s characterized by dry, itchy, and red skin.  While it commonly affects children, recent research suggests that adult-onset eczema is on the rise.  

Read on to discover the frequency and characteristics of adult eczema, as well as some natural ways to manage symptoms. 

Please keep in mind that although what we discuss in this post can relieve eczema, we are in no way medical professionals. If you’re experiencing severe eczema symptoms like an infection, it is best to seek medical advice immediately.

Symptoms of Adult Eczema 

Eczema is identified by dry, flaky patches of red skin. It can also be accompanied by intense itchiness which has a tendency to lead to a vicious itch-scratch cycle. Unlike children, adults often develop eczema around their eyes, on the back of their neck, on the face, and on the inside of the elbows.  

Symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:

  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Intense itchiness
  • Rough, leathery patches of skin 
  • Red rashes that may burn
  • Oozing skin

It’s possible that there may be periods where symptoms drastically improve or even disappear.  At other times, symptoms flare-up. 

Adult Onset Eczema Causes

If your eczema develops after your 18th birthday – provided that you’ve never had atopic dermatitis before –  this is considered to be adult onset eczema.  A prime time to develop adult eczema is in your 50s. 

A 2018 study reports that 12 percent of adults globally have eczemaThe exact cause of eczema is unknown but it is believed to result from a combination of hereditary and environmental factors.  The genetic influence explains why eczema tends to run in families.  Adult-onset eczema, in particular, is more likely to develop in women from a lower childhood socio-economic group, as well as in smokers.

Many environmental factors that can contribute to flare-ups are actually common household products that are generally harmless. These irritants can include chemicals found in soaps, laundry detergents, perfumes, and shampoos. Even the clothes you wear – such as those made from wool or polyester – can trigger a reaction.  Other common triggers are stress, extreme temperatures, sweat, allergens such as pet fur, dust mites, or pollen, and even the food you eat. 

Living with Eczema as an Adult

Living with eczema as an adult comes with its own set of challenges.  It can be debilitating and painful, negatively affect a person’s job, education, and self-esteem, and limit their lifestyle.  Getting a good night’s sleep often becomes difficult as scratching can lead to several restless nights. In turn, symptoms can eventually affect work performance.  According to the National Eczema Association, nearly 5.9 million workdays are lost annually because of eczema. 

Adult eczema can also take a toll on a person’s emotional health, as it can decrease a person’s sense of attractiveness and heighten their feelings of self-consciousness. Nearly half of adults with moderate to severe eczema atopic dermatitis reported that they avoided social interactions because of their appearance. Also, one-third of adults with eczema said that their skin condition interfered with their sex life.

It’s no wonder that mental side effects of eczema can include anxiety, depression, a rise in stress level.  

For more information on stress, depression or anxiety linked with eczema, we suggest checking out the following posts:

The Link Between Eczema and Stress: How to be Calm

Your Skin and Mind: Looking at Eczema and Depression

The Power of Trust and Acceptance: 6 Tips for Living with Eczema

How to Treat Adult Eczema

To help manage and reduce symptoms, we recommend protective clothing and products featuring natural ingredients: 

Organic Manuka Skin Soothing Cream: We love this oil-based cream because it’s made with just six ingredients – including Manuka honey!  Gentle and nourishing, it moisturizes the skin without any burning or stinging.  Your irritated skin will love its creamy texture. 

Emily Skin Soothers for Red Eczema Rashes: If you’re suffering from oozing, inflamed, or angry looking eczema, try this hot skin soother. It’s excellent at relieving irritation in skin folds, armpits, groin area, and elbow and knee creases.

Calendula Facial Cream: As adult eczema tends to develop on the face and around the eyes, we recommend this cream specially formulated for the face and eyes.  The ingredients used to make it were handpicked to rejuvenate and soothe skin. Plus, the high concentrations of calendula resins help to reduce itching, minimize scars and even aid in wound healing.  

WrapESoothe Eczema Sleeves: For an extra boost of moisture, we highly recommend wet wrap therapy with these eczema sleeves. Made with stretchy and soft fabric, they’re easy to place in the areas you need it most – such as the elbows, forearms, upper arms, and behind the knees.  Studies report an average reduction of eczema symptoms by 70% in 5 days with wet wrap treatment.

Remedywear™ Long Sleeve Shirt: This form-fitting shirt is designed to combat the urge to itch. Made with TENCEL and embedded with anti-inflammatory zinc, it’s perfect for protecting irritated areas on the chest and back.  In addition, it’s comfortable and easy to layer, making it ideal for wearing underneath clothes for work or alone at night as pajamas. Pair with these Remedywear Eczema Pants for optimal effects. 

Remedywear™ Eye Mask – Soothe itchy, irritated eyes with this soothing eyemask for eyelids or eczema around eyes.  Thanks to its nourishing TENCEL and zinc-embedded fibers, it’s the perfect natural eczema treatment.  For extra cooling relief, store in the fridge between uses.

Remedywear™ Scarf – If you suffer from an irritated or itchy neck, you’ll love this Remedywear scarf.   It’s great for wearing under every day clothing to stop your skin from rubbing against rougher materials.   Be sure to pair it with your favourite natural cream to promote even faster healing.

Have you dealt with adult onset eczema?  Let us know in the comments below!

References: 

https://www.aaaai.org/global/latest-research-summaries/Current-JACI-Research/eczemas

https://nationaleczema.org/54-got-dealing-eczema-later-life/

https://www.aad.org/adults-get

https://www.instyle.com/beauty/health-fitness/severe-eczema-in-adults

https://www.mdedge.com/dermatology/article/170267/atopic-dermatitis/debunking-atopic-dermatitis-myths-can-adults-develop

Laura is a contributor and content developer for It’s An Itchy Little World. She is in no way a medical professional. Her comments, suggestions, and reflections are not intended to replace any medical advice. Always seek the help of a medical professional before undertaking any diet or lifestyle changes. Please see It’s An Itchy Little World’s disclaimer for information about affiliate links and more.

Dr. Joanna "Asia" Jaros, MD

Dr. Joanna "Asia" Jaros is a current Dermatology resident at Cook County Hospitals and Health System (CCHHS). Dr. Jaros is committed to providing compassionate, equitable, and evidence-based care for all of her patients. Her special research interests include eczema, chronic urticaria, and diet and lifestyle modifications in dermatology.

FROM: Eczema

2 Comments

  1. Mercy on February 27, 2020 at 12:49 am

    Informative piece.

  2. Mercy on February 27, 2020 at 12:50 am

    i have only experienced it on children.

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