How to Treat an Eczema Rash on Your Face

If something your face comes into contact with makes your skin angry, staying away from that trigger can help you feel better—but that’s not always easy. “Some triggers are more immediate and obvious to figure out, while other reactions can be more delayed and take 24 to 48 hours to occur,” says Dr. Gelfand. “Those can be more challenging to pinpoint.”

His recommendation: If your eczema acts up, think about what recently happened in the last day or two or what change you had to your routine that may have triggered it. Consider any skin products or laundry detergent you started using or perfumes you applied. This is a key way Dana Sellers, 41, manages her eczema, which pops up on her eyelids, under her eyes, around her nose, and on the bottom of her jaw. “Avoiding fragrance has been a big thing,” she says. “All of my skin care products are fragrance-free.” She’s also noticed a link between what she eats—especially dairy—and her flare-ups. “I’m not giving up ice cream and cheese because I love it. But I can’t overdo it.”

Bathe strategically.

Hot showers can suck all the moisture out of your skin, so keep your water on the lukewarm side and use soap that’s fragrance-free and hypoallergenic, Dr. Davis says. (Like Dove Sensitive Skin Bar Soap, eight for $11.) Once you’re clean, pat your face dry instead of rubbing it, and slather on an eczema-friendly cream to help hold in the water.

Manage stress and prioritize sleep.

The world is a challenging place, so being told to “just relax” can be infuriating. But finding ways to rest more—even if for a few minutes a day—can really do wonders for your mental health, which is good for your skin, too. That’s because stress and exhaustion can be big triggers. “Stay up all night and get sleep-deprived; your eczema will flare. Lose a job, have a parent die, or move, and it will flare,” Dr. Davis says.

To make matters worse, these things can increase the sensation that makes you want to scratch, so you end up rubbing your face more, which in turn can make you feel even itchier, Dr. Gelfand says. This comes as no surprise to Sellers. “When I’m stressed out, I have a flare-up,” she says. Sellers says she works out regularly and reads to ward off her symptoms. “I just try to have ‘me time’ so I can decompress.”

If you struggle to carve out more than a few minutes to unwind, making the most of that time is important. One simple way to do that is by doing something called progressive muscle relaxation. The technique involves tensing and releasing different body parts, which helps quell stress by forcing your body out of fight-or-flight mode. To give it a try, find a quiet place to sit or lie down. Start by curling your toes and tensing the muscles in your feet for five seconds before slowly relaxing them for 10 seconds. Do the same with your legs, hips, butt, stomach, chest, shoulders, neck, face, and hands.

Consider getting an allergy test.

Coming into contact with common allergens—like certain preservatives and adhesives—can mess with your skin if you’re sensitive to them. To figure out if that’s what’s going on, Dr. Davis recommends getting a patch test, which involves using tiny stickers to expose your skin to possible triggers. Each potential allergen is placed on your skin and covered for a few days. If you have a reaction that tells your doctor you have an allergy. For example, you could be allergic to something in your nail polish, touch your hand to your face, and then have a reaction, says Dr. Davis, who notes most people’s eczema will get better if they avoid the things they’re allergic to.

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