Facial eczema

I have had excema on my face on and off for years.

It now seems to be focused around the eyes both on the lids and under, I dont wear any make up and only use H2O for washing and am very careful about not getting any shampoo etc on my face.

I have had 0.5%hydocortisone cream presribed on and off but now it seems to be ineffective and because of where it is i was told that 1% was not suitable.

Does anyone have any experience of this or any ideas as am getting rasther fed up as it is very itchy and seems to be making my eyeball itchy too! Thanks

32 Replies

  • you tried using either aqueous cream or some sort of moisteriser to wash face in as know some can be used as soap substitute. might help it not get as dry.

  • I agree, moisturise, moisturise, moisturise! Diprobase is good, you can use it with water as a cleanser as well as as a moisturiser.

    I have occasional eczema (or some sort of rash anyway!) on my face and although hydrocort clears it for a while, diprobase or the equivalent is the only thing which keeps it at bay.

    It's a bit embarressing to go around with a shiny sticky-looking face from smothering it with cream but better than being red and flakey!


  • Might there be an element of superficial infection - this is often the case when eczema is unresponsive to topical steroids, in which case treatment with a topical antibiotic such as fucidin may help, in conjunction with hydrocortisone.

    Otherwise a concerted 1-2 week blast with dedicated twice daily application may help. I know when my eczema was bad I was continually trying to NOT use topical steroid because I was worried about side effects, but in the long run you tend to use more by using them on and off than by a concerted effort.

    Hope this helps. If I am talking rubbish, feel free to tell me!


  • Hey hops,

    This sounds very familiar. I have been having real probs with my skin the past couple of months esp my face. Have always suffered with eczema but since asthma took over its been almost nothing. However my face just looks like its constantly flaking off at the mo and putting so much cream on it 2 keep it moisurised.

    Anyway getting to the point...i spoke to my local cons when i saw him in dec and he let me chat to the dermatologist who was in clinic at the same time!!

    Her advice was you can use hydrocortisone continously for 2 weeks...have u tried that rather than just on and off. Various other things were recommended:

    Moisturisers with antimicrobials such as oilatum plus or dermol 500

    Other moisturisers such as oilatum cream, dermol, aveeno oatmeal.

    Also she said even things like changing ure shampoo or using a harsh shampoo will affect facial eczema.

    Hope i have been of sum use and you haven't tried all those already!

    Em x

  • At the moment its only around my eyes, i dont have diprobase instead i use cetraben and or/ Hemp cream.

    Over the years to treat it on my body i think i have used most creams as it used to be quite bad, it now on,y flares up with severe stress or allergic contact that is all apart from my eyes which i have yet to find a trigger..

    I use the cetraben x2 a day and it stings like hell as did the aqueous cream.Have to admit using such creams does nothing for the zits!!

  • The 1 to 2 week blast with hydrocort does work but with a fortnight its back its very stubborn.

    I hadnt thought about the possibility of infection im due to speak to GP on Thurs (hes checking up on stroppy lungs) so will mention it then and see what it says.

    Because i have had it on my scalp i tend to use quite mild shapmoos and occassional coal tar preps if its bad which sorts it out.

    I really would like to get it sorted as my brother is getting married later in the year and although i wont werar eye make up i dont want to look as red eyeed as at the mo!!

  • Oooops posted before logged in under His Nib's identity...

    Hops, that stinging when you apply emollient sounds very familiar - I can identify as having had that when my eczema was infected. Pretty much anything you care to name hurt like hell and the skin was weeping as well.

    I'd take yourself to your GP and ask about this.


  • Randomly (although I am mindful that I am posting on an asthma forum so this is unlikely to be the case) - do you have any chrysanthemums in the house? There is an association between eczema around the eyes and chyrsanthemums....told you it was random...

  • Cath - Funnily enough no i dont have any flowers/plants except for my aloe vera!

    Eyes not weeping but will definately mention to GP when he rings me on thurs if i dont ring before!


  • hi, a couple of things that may be of interest.

    1. my daughters excema always flares up at the same time as her asthma, so if she gets a cold and then she starts wheezing, and then the excema flares too.

    2ndly I get rashes / excema alot too, particularly on my hands, but also on my face too. I had patch testing done, It has been really helpful. As I have discovered that I have quite a few contact allergys. I can now avoid things, and I have had far fewer flare-ups. you could be touching something that you are allergic to and then touching your face.

    Anyway, something to think about, I agree with what everyone else has said.

    Cheers RI

  • Hello Hopalong,

    Lots of love and hugs cos I know how b. awful it is to suffer from the dreaded duo aka eczema and asthma.

    I suffer from severe atopic eczema along with the same sort of asthma. At the moment my eczema is well controlled via a variety of boot camp strategies, including complimentary as well as pharmacological means. Am receiving treatment for asthma probs, with same strategies but rather annoyingly they are strangely diffident! LOL)

    Ok back to topic.

    If you are suffering from eczema in only one particular area it could be that you are transferring allergens - via your hands (?) - to one part of your body including mucosal membranes such as your eyes. It can also contribute to part of an overall delayed hypersensitivity. If you don’t track down the culprit/s this reaction becomes chronic. (Our immune systems become overly conscientious gate-keepers!)

    Could you/ can you keep a diary of when your eczema becomes worse allied to things you have touched?

    Example coming up…. I used to get a severe ‘rash’ on one side of my face near my ears. Everyone said it must be because of my earrings. (Love my earrings!) I pointed out that I always wear two earrings (none allergenic gold)… so why didn’t I get a rash on both sides of my face? After some detective work I realised that in my job I ‘write’ with a whiteboard marker with my right hand and then unconsciously touch the right side of my face with same dominant hand.

    Am obviously allergic to what the f… in chemicals contained in whiteboard markers. So now wash my hands after each lecture and don’t touch my face! So obvious, but not so simple to resolve, especially if you are rushed and stressed with kids, job etc.

    It’s so important for our self esteem to look good on special occasions… let alone everyday life.

    Sunshine, either real – the best - or artificial can really help. Maybe a sunbed… but be very careful…. Also, dietary supplements such as omega 3 oils can help ‘dry’ skin within during winter. I also swear by diprobase as an essential everyday emollient… sort of a complimentary meets pharmacological truce! And VERY green if you look at the list of ingredients!



  • hopalongkp

    I had a terrible spell of excema around my eyes when I was at university. I had huge red circles around both my eyes.

    The first dr I saw at the university prescribed me Eumovate! When I went back a week later with no improvement the other dr I saw was horrified that I'd been given Eumovate for my eyes. After several weeks of trying something different each week with no success we finally tried antibiotics and I was very relieved when that stopped the excema.

    I subsequently had horrible spells of excema on my face. In the end the dr suggested that the E45 I applying liberally might have been the problem. Sure enough stopping that worked and I haven't have a major problem on my face since. At some stage my gp did offer me a referral to a consultant, but fortunately she managed to suggest things that sorted out the facial excema before I was desperate enough to be referred.

    Hope some of this is of some use to you and that you get it sorted out soon.


  • Thanks for the replies some very helpful comments and suggestions

    Mia- interesting thought hand eye contact not looked at that line of things will try and remember to write habits down, i do have small patches elsehwere bu tnot in regular contact with hands! I like the idea of real sunshine but will have to wait til May for that 1!! Cant have fish oil due to being allergic to some fish can it be found elsehwere -omega3 oil that is!

    Bee- was given Eumovate about 18mths ago by different Gp regular dr went loopy when he found out.

    Im seeing my regular GP 2moz so will ask about possibility of infecon eye lids , would be just my luck another one to go alongside my chest infec!!

  • Hi hopalong,

    I know that you can get capsules of omega 3 (and possibly 6 too, but I'm guessing it wouldn't do you any harm to have both) that are suitable for vegetarians, so they should be free of fish oil.


  • Thanks BeckyG i will look out for some when i next venture out am will to try anything. Just hope they not too pricey.

    Am very itchy 2day , have been making a concerted effort no to touch my face but its soo hard!

  • Meant to say -saw GP earlier who has given me an antibiotic ointment for 5 days (betnovate n)so fingers x it helps.

  • Ah, Betnovate! Good stuff. Please let us know how you get on.

  • Update :-

    After 24 hrs the cream stings like mad when going on and for about 10 mins after but my eyes are a tad less red so hopefully its starting to work , am hoping the itchyness stops soon! Im quietly optimistic!

  • [soap-box]

    Approaches to use of steroid creams differ (sorry, just going to have a soap box moment, feel free to ignore me) between doctors.

    Many GPs do worry about the adverse effects of steroid creams, much as patients do. As a general rule we don't use anything above 1% hydrocortisone on the face.

    HOWEVER there is no point sitting there saying ""well, 1% hydrocortisone isn't really doing a lot, but carry on with it because I can't give you anything stronger"". Likely case is, by using a mild steroid for a long period of time, (if you were going to get side effects), then you'd cause more problems than by using a more potent steroid for a short burst to get things under control, then keeping things under control with emollient (short burst = a week or thereabouts).

    Steroid cream side-effects are rare when the creams are used appropriately, and properly, for correct time periods - it's when they are used inappropriately that problems arise. The precautions stressed are necessary, but sometimes over-hyped.

    [/soap box]

    (COI - skin now nearly clear of eczema after use of above philosophy)

  • CathBear- I have had different Drs using different treatments steroids or just emoilients.

    I have to admit i dont like using steroids on my face esp on my eyes but am getting desperate

    I presume that as im only using it for 5 days (as prescribed) it should be ok?

  • Definitely, I usually say 5-7 days for a flare-up.

  • Update- am very pleased and relieved to say that eyes are definately improved, scaliness much reduced and itchyness not so bad so

    Thumbs up to Betnovate - N

    Im going to really take note of hands touching eyes etc to see if i can find a trigger ,esp as im no longer sure what triggers it on rest of body except for stress and certain body products.

    Thanks all for your posts and suggestions, next stop Lungs!!

  • Cath,

    Some advice if you don't mind! (Dermatology is really not my strong point!) I have a sort of eczema-y type thing on my face at the moment... at least I'm assuming that's what it is since I'm atopic, although I don't usually get eczema. It was red and sore, with some cracked skin, but now it's just dry, flaky and itchy.

    I've been using emollients and 1% hydrocortisone from the chemist (Pharmacist: 'you do know not to put it on your face, don't you?' Me, standing there with obviously exzematous face: 'Oh, yes, indeed, not on the face, right, no, wouldn't dream of it') and it's helped a bit but it sounds from what you're saying that a stronger steroid might help more, or perhaps one with fuscidin in it as well? I hate to bother my GP with something comparatively trivial, but might a visit be in order, do you think?

    Also does anyone know of a moisturiser that's gentle enough to put on my very dry eyelids? Even things like E45 seem to make them more sore.

    Oooh I just feel SO attractive right now! Not only could I be the poster child for Cushing's syndrome, I have a lovely blotchy face as well.

    Grumble grumble moan moan

    Em H

  • Hi Em,

    If it's just dry and flaky now I'd stop the topical steroid as they can be more drying. If it has any features such as redness, weeping or blistering, then continue hydrocort and see if your GP reckons if there's any superficial infection. May need something stronger or a topical antibiotic.

    Have you tried something like emulsifying ointment or 50/50 liquid/white soft paraffin? Horribly sticky, but really does the trick for immense dryness/flakiness.

    I like diprobase, for being mainly free of allergenic stuff (personally E45 really, really hates my skin and does Bad Stuff to it); I hear Double Base gel is good as well. Some people like Epaderm - similar in texture to emulsifying ointment.

    Can't see what the pharmacist was going on about with not using hydrocort 1% on the face... *shrugs*

    Hops - glad to hear betnovate-N is doing the trick!

  • Incidentally, emulsifing ointment or 50/50 = cheap as chips for a small vat from chemist! - and contain v little if anything in terms of preservatives/allergenics (50/50 has absolutely nothing else in it).

  • Thanks, Cathy, that's great, I'll keep trying with the emollients, I'll get some of the 50:50. I've had Diprobase and Cetreben in the past, both were okay but they still irritated my eye-lids!

    I'm going to switch from a mask to a mouthpiece for nebbing too, I don't think having concentrated salbutamol blown on my skin and in my eyes is helping! The mask is easier at night and when poorly though.

    I think pharmacists are not allowed to sell anything stronger than 0.5% hydrocort for the face, I think it has to be on prescription if you want to go any stronger than that. That's what I've always been told anyway. Think it's a bit academic in my case since I've got 2mg of inhaled fluticasone plus 30mg of pred coursing round my system - I'm suprised my skin dares to react with that lot on board!

    Thanks again


  • Might be true what you say about 1% being ok to sell OTC but not for facial use.

    Ironically, did you know that although 1% hydrocort can be sold OTC, 0.5% is POM?

    How random is that?!

    (Apologies for abbrevs, trying to make it a quickie; OTC = Over The Counter; POM = Prescription Only Medication)

  • Trivial veering off topic nonsense from my house - Emulsifying ointment is referred to by my other half as Whale fat, Aqueous cream as white slime and diprobase as the clean one ( it's in a pump not a tub) as thats the only way he can remember which is which and for which child....

  • EmH - I swear by doublebase now. use it as twice daily moisteriser all over as had horrble dry flaky skin before, and legs v itchy too, and pretty much all ok now. my face was more around my mouth, but cleared up ok now. E45 didn't do anything for me, but doublebase has worked.

    Hope you get sorted soon!

  • betnovate N a definate success.

    Anyone know how long it is safe to keep a tube of such ointment?

  • Hmmm. Good question. Probably throw it after about a month or so - simple because, once open (even if it contains anti-bacterials) it's likely to get bugs and such growing in it.

    Apart from that consideration, in theory it's safe to keep it until the expiry date printed on the tube crimp.

  • Eczema cannot be cured completely, but it can be controlled. One should avoid harsh soaps and use of hot water. The food triggers like eggs, wheat, soya and cow’s milk can trigger flare ups for the eczema and should be avoided. The key to a successful treatment is moisturising and not once but many times a day. When stepping out of the house you should wear sunscreen lotion and dark glasses. These tips are sure to prevent your eczema.

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