Eczema in Adults

Parent Q&A

  • Teen swimmer with eczema

    (2 replies)

    My 13 year old daughter does swim team and has Eczema. She gets it behind her knees, on the insides of her elbows where it bends, but also occasionally around her mouth and even eyes sometimes. The knees and elbows are not too hard to treat, but because she swims, gets sun, and is a teen prone to the occasional pimples and what not, I'm kind of not sure what to do about her face. Any suggestions of someone to see or products to use for the face of a teen?

    RE: Teen swimmer with eczema ()

    My 15 year old is also a swimmer who gets eczema. I have tried TruKids Eczema cream. You can find it on amazon or you can visit their location in Oakland's Jack London Square. Their webpage is


    RE: Teen swimmer with eczema ()

    My teen son gets eczema on his face and not pimples. He also had eczema on his arms, legs and butt.  His allergist prescribed two types of cortisone cream.  One was for the face and one was for the body.  He also recommended soaking in tub for at least 20 minutes and putting on lotion.  The cortisone creams were applied cyclically, e.g. for one week twice a day, then twice a week and then repeat.  Something like that.  This really helped my son.  He didn't keep up the routine rigorously, but it did work when we did.  Using the creams really helped with the extreme itching.  He would scratch and start bleeding and not even know it.  I am not sure how pool water and sun fit into the equation but I suspect it only makes the eczema worse.  A hat in the sun would definitely be advised.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Family member with severe, debilitating eczema

Oct 2015

Hi BPN, I'm worried about a family member who is suffering from severe, debilitating eczema. It's probably stress related. She may also have PND, not least because of the pain and stress of her condition coupled with being on her own most of the time with a very spirited toddler. Doctors, naturopaths, herbalists etc where she lives haven't been able to help her. She's coming to stay with us in Berkeley for a few weeks and I wondered if anyone knew about help that might be available to her here. Has anyone helped you or someone you care about? With thanks. Jo

Yes, I have suffered eczema so bad my hands were bleeding and i had to bandage them every day. It was miserable! i tried allergy testing and acupuncture: neither worked. I was in counseling then, because it was a very stressful time of my life, and i'm sure that helped. But i think the thing that really cured me what homeopathy! i saw someone at the Hahnemann Clinic in El Cerrito. It was an extensive intake, and over the next couple weeks it took a while to get the right remedy...but i'm convinced that's what cured me! This was way back in 1991...i have no idea of what practitioners are there now. I had had eczema for so long (most of a year as I recall) I was despairing of ever getting better. Good luck! it's possible to get better. I'm still fine and have not had another outbreak.

Has your relative tried an autoimmune diet? Grain free (including all forms of gluten), sugar, dairy, soy, alcohol. This has helped many people with exzema, psoriasis and other skin issues. Check out good luck. June K

I am a 57 year old suffering from chronic eczema for over 40 years. I use western medicine (Dr. Koo at UCSF Medical Center is the very best) and I use non-traditional therapies for coping, including: a) Stress reduction is critical. Meditate if necessary. Find and remove stressful situations. Get therapy if needed. b) Exercise is critical. I like 3 to 4 cardio workouts a week (running, road biking, spinning) and 2 weight training sessions a week. Sweating and relaxing helps the skin. c) Sleep management is critical. Night time itching can be an issue. Get the room cool enough. Use an anti-itch medicine (benadryl, doxepin) if needed. Don't allow two bad nights: take a sleeping pill after one bad night. d) Vitamins help. Also some supplements. I am currently trying turmeric. e) Drink more water. Hope this helps. Susan

Try to figure out what the triggers are and reduce them. Here are some ideas: Anon

Eczema on my hands

July 2014

I have been treating persistent eczema on my hands (it's only on my hands) for 20 years. My first doctor prescribed me some very strong steroid cream ''to clear it up for good'', but it never cleared up. I've been using that same cream for almost 20 years to treat the flare ups. Since my pregnancy and after my son was born, my eczema has gotten really bad and I've had to use it almost every week.

Only now have I belatedly googled the side effects of this cream and found that it has serious side effects, should not be used long term, affects pregnancy and fertility. All the rx websites give this same info, not just the sensationalized ones. None of my doctors have ever warned me about this, they just refilled my prescription. I did check up on it while pregnant but some (stupid) pharmacist said, and I quote, ''You put it on your skin, you don't eat it, how can it affect your pregnancy?'' So I kept using it.

Now I blame myself that maybe this is the reason it was so difficult for us to conceive my son. I also worry it may have harmed him in utero. But the main thing is I need to get off the steroid ASAP.

I've tried stopping cold turkey, leading to cracked and bleeding hands. I've tried a milder cream, but it has similar side effects and doesn't actually heal the eczema. I've tried to limit what I touch. I touch no household cleaners/chemicals with my bare hands. I wash dishes with 2 pairs of gloves, cotton and rubber. I only wash with dove soap and carry my own soap when I go out. I moisturize constantly. No use.

I really need help. Please offer any advice: traditional medicine, alternative medicine, anything you did to help with your eczema. Thank you! --Itching and desperate

I feel for you. My eczema on my hands isn't quite as bad as yours. I do use the steroid occasionally and also just hydrocortisone. I notice the doctors always recommend highly chemical products like Cerave cream and Dove soap. I just bought Dove soap UNSCENTED--it says, and it smelled so strong; I read the ingredients, and it contains ''fragrance''!? I would be so grateful if you'd share any tips you get with me! Thank you so much. winn

I hear your plight about eczema on your hands. I had a similar situation with horribly itchy eczema on my fingers. The dermatologist said I was allergic to my wedding ring. I took that off, and nothing changed. I put it back on and used the steroid cream, but that didn't work either. Now I have changed my diet (no sugar, dairy, or processed grains) and am using some gut cleansing protocols. Cleanse for 10 days followed by a 20 day probiotic. That is the ONLY thing that has worked for me. Cherlynn

I am so sorry to hear about your struggle. I too have suffered eczema on my hands that got really bad after my son was born. Being concerned about the steroid cream on my hands coming into contact with my baby, I opted to only use it in the worst cases (and covered with cotton gloves when handling him). To manage my skin I use CeraVe lotion (recommended by one of my dermatologists) and Aquaphor ointment to spot treat the cracked parts (I try to minimize this, it is a petroleum product).

In addition to the steps you have taken regarding the household chemicals to avoid, I also find that I need to keep hydrated, use a humidifier at night, and only use a gentle liquid soap (bar soaps of all kinds make it worse). You might even try a liquid baby soap from a natural foods store. Been there too

I had severe eczema for years and finally got treatment. It did go away and I have been free of it since. What worked for me were comprehensive and fundamental changes. I changed my food and went on a rotation diet. I learned how to express and process my feelings without them leaking out into my skin. I went for weekly acupuncture treatments, took recommended herbs, stayed away from all environmental toxins, to manage my stress better. and ultimately went to a naturopathic physician to finish the treatment. It was a LONNNNGGGGG process but worth it. You may contact me for referrals.

Your situation sounds really awful. I am wondering - is this really eczema? There was an interesting posting in the NY Times recently where a woman had been misdiagnosed for 18 years, initially for eczema,but it turned out she had a rather strange allergy. and it was also only on her hands. Worth reading perhaps? Sarah

I work for skincare and nutrition company and unfortunately we no longer carry a hand cream that people reported good for eczema. However, our founding doctor is a big advocate for nutritional remedies from the inside out. For eczema which is an inflammatory condition, we would recommend taking the following oral supplements if you are not already and not allergic: high quality probiotics, omega 3 fatty acids (from fish, or algae if vegetarian) and gamma linoleic acid (borage seed or evening primrose oil). Try for at least 4 wks. If not helpful for eczema, these are good for you in general so worth a try? I will also try to dig up a tube of our original formula and write again if I find. Hope you find relief! Anon

I have psoriasis on my hand, which can also crack and bleed like your eczema. I use the steroid cream occasionally, and only at night, when I put a band-aide over it. During the day, if it bothers me, I put lip balm on it, which I always carry with me. This helps, but not as much as the steroid cream. Maybe you could experiment with heavy duty non steroid skin creams, possibly with lanolin in them?

Hi momma, Please don't stress about those steroid creams. They really aren't going to affect your fertility or pregnancy. Really. Make sure you apply them lightly, twice daily (don't skip or they will backfire) until the flare is all cleared up. Moisturize your whole body twice a day too - I like Eucerine - it will really help though not cure. And see a dermatologist, in case it's not exczema (sometimes you get a fungus after exczema, or it could be psoriasis with different treatment). Itchy

I just read about a case like this and it turned out that the person was reacting to sun exposure! She started wearing gloves while driving, keeping her hands away from the sun coming through the windshield of her car, (she drove with her hands at the 10 and 2 o'clock positions, right in the sun) and her hands got better very quickly. Might be worth a try! Wishing you good luck

I would be very careful about the products that you are using on your hands. Dove soap is heavily perfumed and probably isn't the best option. I like Neem soap or one of the fragrance free soaps that you can get at Berkeley Bowl, Rainbow, Whole Foods, etc. Also, many lotions have alcohol in them and are drying. The best that I've found is Neutrogena Norwegian Formula hand cream. It's sad but a lot of products that are supposed to help with dry skin actually make it worse. Another trick is to put a thick layer of vaseline on your hands, covered by cotton gloves, right before bed. Avoid all products with fragrance or alcohol. Super dry

I had the same problem with eczema on my hands. I also used stronger and stronger steroids for over 20 years before deciding I have to get off them. The first thing I did was get an allergy test. The kind where they put strips on your back for a couple days and see what you react to. I was allergic to several different chemicals that where everywhere, soap, shampoo, sunscreen. I took all of those out and it wasn't enough, there was something that still caused pretty regular flare-ups. Now I have removed any chemicals from anything I put on my body. Literally! I'm basically just using the barest lotions (shea butter) and soaps (keep it to only two or three ingredients you know!). I also have to be careful when I leave the house to not use soap from the common-use soap as I don't know what is in it. I bring my own soap out and I make my own coconut oil deodorant too. As soon as I did this, my 25 year eczema started to get under control. I don't use the steroids anymore but my hands look much older than they are from the steroids. It is most likely something you are touching since it is on your hands. You should try to cut all these chemicals out. If you won't eat it, don't put it on your body is how I have to live now. Maria

Eczema's a bitch, isn't it? You could try switching to using an unscented LIQUID soap and using cream instead of lotion (needs fewer preservatives). I find preservatives like methylparaben and proplyparaben can irritate the skin. Fragrance is also a major irritant for many people. Baby products are often a good bet-I like Alaffia Blissful Baby Balm. Or try coconut oil. --Good Luck

Re self-blame: Forgive yourself. You'll never know what effect, if any, your medication had on your pregnancy or child. Probably everything will be totally fine; the bodies have a way of protecting us. In my parents' generation, women drank, smoked, took all kinds of meds when they were pregnant. We came out okay. (Then again, given the political state of the country, maybe that is debatable.)

Re treatment: I am no doctor and this is probably a long shot. But there was an interesting piece in the New York Times a few months ago about a woman with persistent eczema on her hands. It was not eczema at all, but persistent photo-allergic dermatitis. Check it out: Hope this Helps

Try Neem Oil, available online and at some health food stores. It's from Linden trees and has soothing and anti-inflammatory effects, and I find it very helpful for a couple of skin conditions I have. anon

I got an eczema on my hands after my first pregnancy. My PCP also wanted to prescribe the steroid cream and I refused. I looked at different things. For one I used a nipple cream, I originally bought to be used for nursing. It did magic to the eczema. It did not cure it, but the outbreaks became shorter and far milder. The only drawback is that the cream is oily and you cannot touch anything for 15 min or more. I had a cream from French company Melvita-nipple balm. The store closed in SF. Once this cream runs out, I will probably try other nipple creams. Also, when I have an outbreak, I cut down on my sweets, either sugar or sugar-free. I noticed that is lowers severity somewhat. Victoria

Maybe you have ruled out other causes of the irritation to your hands, but I wonder if it is a fungal infection. You can get itchy irritated, pealing fungal infections in any area of the skin. You are correct that any cream has the potential to enter the circulatory system especially if you are rubbing it into areas where the skin in not intact. RN

A pox on the pharmacist who told us that creams are harmless. The skin absorbs medicine into the bloodstream. sheesh! You need to see a dermatologist who specializes in eczema. I would start by searching my health care plan's network of doctors online under specialists. It sounds like your skin has become ''addicted'' to the steroid cream and going cold turkey has caused it to go into a withdrawal. I suggest you wean your skin off of the cream by reducing the # of days you use it. i.e. every other day, then 3 days a week, then 2 days week, etc... But most importantly, go see a specialist. Good Luck! TFP

I'm actually dealing with the same thing - although it flared up for reasons I can't figure out just recently. I've never had it before. Its only on about 4-5 of my fingers. Here's what has helped me....We went to Harbin Hot Springs a few weeks ago for 3 days and of course I spent lots of time in the mineral pools. Anyway, my deep cracks healed up with in hours of being in the water. It was incredible. Try it if you can. Thinking it has something to do with the prolonged contact with moisture (rather than the mineral content of the water), I have been putting a regular store-bought antibiotic cream on them then putting bandaids on my fingers - both overnight and during the day. Sometimes I just put regular lotion instead (my doctor recommended Cereve, which the Kaiser store sells). I found this trick to be super helpful. Partly I think because it keeps them from drying out. But it hasn't totally gone away yet. The skin dr I saw a few weeks back said it should go away soon. He also said that the supposedly higher impact steroid creams really weren't worth it - he simply recommended the Cereve multiple times a day. I will be curious to see what other responses you get. Good luck. j

I have had the same problem for probably 3 years now - eczema and steroid creams, and pregnancies. By chance, in my most recent (3rd) pregnancy, I found the intense itchiness and resulting dryness and cracking was a direct result of eating gluten, but mostly wheat. My eczema was bad before the third pregnancy, but it definitely got a lot worse. I began to cut out gluten (it took awhile since it is in a lot of things I did not know about), and for the rest of my pregnancy my hands were mostly eczema-free with maybe just a little dryness once in awhile. I was hoping it was a pregnancy thing and tried eating wheat afterward, to no avail. If I choose to eat wheat, my hands will be in pain for 2 weeks at least until they heal, providing I don't accidentally ingest any wheat. While I wait for them to heal, I am currently using CeraVe cream, and very occasionally use the steroid when I just can't handle it anymore. I get cuts that sting when I wash my hands, and the dermatologist recommended to hold the cut closed and put superglue over it, which sounded crazy but actually works!! Also, about hand washing, the dermatologist recommended that I do not was my hands unless I absolutely need to and use hand sanitizer instead, even alcohol based, because even gentle soap can strip away the natural oils on your skin. He also recommended any hand creams and vaseline stating no one is allergic to anything in vaseline, though some people may be allergic to some ingredients in Aquaphor. I also really liked Stevens Cream: You can get a free sample (I got another free sample after mine ran out) before you choose to order, since it is a bit pricey. I did end up buying the three bottles of the cream because it gave me so much relief. It didn't make it go away though. The only thing that did was my diet change as noted above. Hope some of this info will help you and that you will get some relief. I feel you

Someone else responded before saying it sounded like you've developed an addiction to the steroid cream and unfortunately it does sound like it could be so. You may want to check out this website as it has more information on topical steroid addiction: As someone who has just gone through the withdrawal from using Hydrocortisone cream and then a stronger, more potent one for 5+ years on my face and hands, I found it invaluable, especially the forum. It's not trying to sell anything, be alternative or radical, it's a non-profit organization which is merely trying to spread awareness of the addiction and help those going through the withdrawal. Unfortunately a lot of doctors and dermatologists are either unaware of the problem or deny it's existence, which is something the people at ITSAN (International Topical Steroid Addiction Network) are trying to change.

May I also suggest you stop using the steroid cream completely - from my own experience and from what the leading experts say, there is no point weaning yourself off it. Your body and skin won't start the healing process until you have stopped using steroids altogether, so you're merely putting off the inevitable.

I sincerely hope you don't have the addiction but if you do my heart goes out to you and I really wish you all the best. It's a terrible thing to go through but please believe me when I say it's worth it in the end. I've been off the steroid creams for 2 1/2 years and my skin is looking better than it has in years. There's no quick fix, no magic cure - just the cessation of steroid creams and time. been through hell with my skin

I too had eczema for years -- mainly on my arms, face, and neck. At times it looked like I had been badly burned. And the steroids stopped me from tanning so my skin looked weird whenever I was in the sun. It's been seven years since I had a flare up -- stopped using the steroid after it was pulled from the market.

This is what I did: Met with a Chinese Medicine specialist and did three rounds of herbs/acupuncture. (over a six month period). Stopped eating frozen fruit bars or other super cold foods. Upped my fish oils. Reduced my wheat/dairy. Regularly drank or ate fermented foods (started with kombucha, then a regular rotation of yogurt/kimchi/sauerkraut). Added raw milk to my diet. Tried to eliminate other allergens -- no more hanging out with cats, etc. Stopped using soap, except to wash hands (and shampoo hair). Use only natural unscented detergent (Vaska, Charlie's Soap) and no dryer sheets. Good luck. Eczema sucks. Mandy

I've dealt with eczema on my hands on and off for the past 25 years. I've recently discovered that Omega 3-6-9 makes a big difference in limiting outbreaks. I take Nordic Naturals Complete Omega, a formula that claims to ''support healthy skin.'' It's not inexpensive, but when I take it regularly, it really does help. my kids will hold my hands again


Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I can ramble on with some tips. I also suffer from severe eczema on my hands. It's been better/worse for 15 years now, and this is what I've learned:
- Gloves are your friend. I wear gloves as much as I can. I have latex gloves for changing the babies and housework. Rubber gloves for doing dishes. Leather gloves for going out (have you noticed a mama walking around in the summer weather with elbow-length black leather gloves? That's me. Say hi sometime). Cotton gloves for sleeping. Always put lots of cream/salve on before putting on the gloves. If they get holes, get rid of the gloves. Water/dirt stuck in your gloves is worse than nothing.
- Vaseline is the best moisturizer. Sorry that it's a petroleum product. Coconut oil (90% of the replies from BPN will be a recommendation for coconut oil, the other 10% will be about cutting out gluten) just gets absorbed too quickly. Eczema is not a problem with the skin not having enough oil. It's a problem with not having enough moisture (water). Vaseline TRAPS the water into your skin. Which leads me to my next point...
- Put on vaseline as soon as you get out of the bath/shower. DO NOT PASS GO DO NOT GO PEE DO NOT RESPOND TO YOUR WHINING TODDLER, GET TO THE JAR. Srsly.
- Are you allergic to cats or dust or smoke or anything? It probably irritates your hands. Be done with it.
- What are you doing with SOAP?! Use a non-soap cleanser. Cetaphil moisturizing body wash is great, but expensive, but it also moisturizes your hands so it's like 2 in 1. You shouldn't have to wash your hands too much anyway, because of all DA GLOVES.
- Enlist your family's help. My husband changes all kinds of poopy diapers for me.
- Keep your body clean - bathe at least once a day. One of the major problems with eczema is the secondary infection that comes with it (TBH, coconut oil has antibacterial properties, so you win here, BPNers). I also use an antibacterial (poly bacitracin) once/week.

You can check out the National Eczema Association (YES, it exists, because we need... advocacy?) for more tips.

P.S. From a random tip on NEA, I tried Coal Tar Shampoo soaking but it just seemed to irritate the hands more, and it's a carcinogen, so...
P.P.S. I know it's hard, but don't blame yourself for the infertility you experienced. We never, ever know why when it comes to our bodies and the timing of babies. Be gentle with yourself and love that you kept on trying.
P.P.P.S. I'm trying to cut out gluten, BUT PASTA.


I just wanted to second the recommendations for Cetaphil and gloves. There's a container of Cetaphil next to every sink in our house, and I use it to wash my body as well as my hands just so that I don't have to use my hands to rub some other kind of soap on my skin when I shower. Gloves are great when cleaning and cooking (nothing sets off my eczema as much as getting soup or tomato pulp or dirty dishwater on my hands), but I find that I have to take a break if my hands get close to sweating -- once the sweating inside the gloves starts, everything is downhill from there. lucky to have found something that works

Recurring eczema around eyes and temples

May 2013

I am seeking advice and feedback about this extremely annoying and disruptive eczema that showed up around my eyes and on my temples (sort of in a swim-goggles pattern) about four months ago.

Here's what happens: The redness, flakiness, and itching comes and goes. When this whole thing started, it looked terrible. My temples were raised and inflamed, and the skin around my eyes was so flaky I couldn't wear any kind of makeup to cover it up. It felt like ants were crawling on my face all night. After about two months of this, the flakiness and itching abated but the redness would still crop up now and then. I thought I beat it a couple of weeks ago - my skin was looking better than it had in months, and I could wear makeup no problem. Then I woke up this morning and it was back.

Here's what I've tried: acupuncture and Chinese herbs, ALL kinds of creams and lotions, cutting back on gluten and dairy, exposing my skin to the sun, staying out of the sun, broadband light therapy, and taking Claritin, Flonase, and local honey (thinking it might be related to seasonal allergies).

The only thing that seems to consistently and reliably keep my skin calm is staying out of the sun, but even when I do the redness will come back. Also, EVERY time I get my period, I get the ''goggles pattern'' a day or two beforehand. Of course, the PA at the very well-regarded local dermatologist's office dismissed any connection between my hormones and my skin's condition. She then handed me a boatload of steroids that I just didn't feel comfortable putting on my face, especially around my eyes. So I have NOT tried steroids, mainly because they just treat the symptom and don't get rid of the problem.

Anyone else out there had this kind of experience? I have had a few little eczema flareups on my wrists before, but only due to contact irritation from jewelry. I'm almost 40 and am extremely healthy otherwise, so I'm at a loss for how this is happening out of the blue. Is this just an aging thing? A woman thing? I feel like is too random to be related to my diet and stress level.

I'm at the end of my rope and so disheartened by this. Any suggestions or similar stories? Eczema Exasperation

As a fellow excema sufferer in a family of excema sufferers, I would encourage you to think differently about this condition about about the role that medicine plays in it. You mentioned that you have not tried the steroids because ''they just treat the symptom and don't get rid of the problem.'' But with excema, the symptom IS the problem. That is, excema is definitionally an external rash, and it's not always clearly linked to an irritant or known underlying cause. Perhaps it's your hormones after all. Perhaps it is sun, or exposure to pollen or dust or something else. But perhaps it is nothing at all and that is just one of the areas of your body that you happen to get excema. Mine often recurs on my hips for some reason. My son always gets it on his pinky finger - and only one pinky and not the other one! The doctor doesn't know why, but we just use the steroids as needed when it flares up, they work, and we feel better. Not using them creates other problems, not only the discomfort but a risk of infection (bacteria induced from scratching).

Some people just get excema (''atopic'' people, they are called in medicine). If your excema bothers you, and you are not able to remove any obvious irritant, there is no reason you shouldn't us the steroids to decrease the inflammation and improve your quality of life. Not using the steroids is kind of like not taking Tylenol for a fever when you have a cold because it only ''treats the symptom'' (the fever) and not the underlying cause (the cold virus). True, but why suffer needlessly while you wait for your body to fight off the virus?

I would also suggest, however, seeing an actual dermatologist rather than just the PA. I don't have anything against PAs, but it sounds like you have specific concerns about the use of the steroids that a dermatologist might be better equipped to answer in more detail. Steroids do have side effects, mostly involving the thinning of skin over time, but there are steroids that are specifically made for use on the face. Steroids are dermatologists' bread-and-butter, and they are very knowledgable about the degree of side effects from different ones, the level of dosage you can use before side effects are a problem, how long you should use them at one time, and so on.

For your sake, I hope you won't neglect well-tested medicine based on an incomplete understanding of your condition. You can feel better! excema sufferer (but not today)

I used to get small patches of eczema above my eyebrows, under my chin and on my wrists. I starting taking Flax Seed oil capsules years ago and haven't had a problem since. It might not work for everyone, and I had a mild case, but I suggest you try it. I get the big bottles at CostCo and take one in the morning and one at night. JJMarieKK

I would take the diet part further. Cutting back on gluten and dairy won't help if you are sensitive to either. You'd need to completely cut them out 100% for 3-4 weeks to see results. Beyond that I'd cut out grains, sugar, soy. Ie: a non-inflamatory diet/lifestyle would be the way to see if your problem comes from the inside and an inflamed gut (which most health problems are). Lots of info on line about Paleo lifestyle and eczema/skin conditions. Good luck. June K

You said you could not wear makeup when it got really bad. You said once it got better, you put makeup on again and then it came back. Sounds like you need to stop using makeup on your eyes for some time. You probably developed an allergy or sensitivity to the makeup. Eventually, after your skin fully recovered, you could try a makeup with a more gentle formulation OR without some ingredient that bothers your skin. Also, go see a dermatologist. Anon

I've had eczema for a long time, since childhood. The most prominent patch is around an eye and it comes and goes. Over the past few years, I tried going off every kind of food that might cause it for 6 weeks at a stretch and my allergist and I haven't figured out what causes it. He did prescribe Elidel (pimecrolimus), which is a nonsteroidal cream, so it's safe for areas like the face. I find it helps with the flaky, itchy outbreaks. I haven't had any problems with using it and I've been using it occasionally for many years now. It's really the first thing that has worked in many, many years. Brian

Really itchy rash on my throat and neck

May 2013

Any skin detectives out there? I'm trying to figure out what's causing and what's encouraging a really itchy rash I've developed on my throat and neck. Over the past month I've had a recurrence of a really itchy rash on my throat that I last had years and years ago. It starts out as ovalish shaped red, rough spots that itch and grow. Each time it's only been 2-3 spots. But this time they're the size of a quarter (there are two) and the rash has also appeared as a blotch on the other side of throat as well as invisible itchy pinhead sized lumps under my skin. Yeah, it's horrible!

I rubbed diaper cream (calendula cream) into it and it faded for a while. During that time I saw a NP at my medical practice and as the rash was mild by then, she said it was probably environmentally triggered eczema. However, I didn't grow up having any allergies and since moving to the Bay Area only get a little sniffly from pollen for a week or so in the spring.

So now I'm wondering if diet could be a trigger, because about six weeks before the rash appeared I undertook a major overhaul of my diet -- I cut out most grains and beans and began eating a lot more meats, eggs, nuts (including almond milk) and veggies. I still eat yogurt (and yes, I eat the sweetened kind...) and drink milk sometimes. I rarely eat cheese. I eat chocolate sometimes. And I eat a *lot* more eggs -- frittata and omelettes and scrambled eggs are usually a daily meal. The rash actually got worse after I cut back on nuts. It got *really* bad after I made (normal recipe) hot cross buns for Easter (this was about eight weeks into eating barely any grains) and I mowed down a lot of them over Easter weekend. After dental work and a prescribed soft diet I got bored of eggs and ate a bunch of gluten free baked goods -- muffins, cookies, etc. The rash got really itchy.

I don't want to completely second guess what the cause is -- obviously it could be stress or pollen or laundry detergent or whatever else. But the rash came on in a big way after the dietary changes. I'd love to hear if anyone has any similar experiences and what they did about it. Thanks! Itchy!

I had a mysterious rash that would come and go. No dermatologist could figure out what it was. Then I figured it out on my own--it would start happening around the back of my knees and sometimes on my breasts. After two years of different bouts of it, I realized I was having an allergy to a really cheap type of stretchy latex-type material. The kind you get in socks sold at Target that hug the back of your knees and the cheap bras. I have avoided that type of material for the past 6 years and never had a recurrence with no major diet change. Hope that helps! Sam

You may want to try Applied Kinesiology. I went to a chiropractor, John Erdmann in Pleasant Hill, to determine what was causing a persistent dry cough. He tested me and determined that I was sensitive to corn and dairy. If I stay away from those foods, my cough goes away! I'm confident that he'd help you with your eczema. Hope you get better!

Saw your post about Adult Eczema. I do have one tip to pass on although my experience is with childhood eczema. My son had eczema as an infant. My one tip is to try adding Fish Oil or Flax seed oil. This had a remarkable effect on my son and cleared up his eczema. We used it for years and whenever we stopped giving the oil for a trip or such the eczema returned. We did use an elimination diet. Go back to your original diet and add one change at a time...and wait two weeks to gauge the effect. He also had a food allergy test at Kaiser which was helpful as one of the foods he was allergic to was not a common culprit: potatoes. Karen

If its just around your neck it might be an allergy to a necklace you have. Nickel allergy is very common. I recently started to have patches of an itchy rash on my neck and realized that the gold on one of my gold plated necklaces had worn off and the metal underneath was causing some eczema. E

I developed allergies and mild eczema as an adult, after having kids. I also developed allergies to cats after having cats for decades. This could be entirely separate from your diet, although it is clearly much more serious than my mild skin issues. You should see a dermatologist. Good Luck.

I have found similar reactions found for both myself and my children from cleansing diets. There are two ideas behind it from what I understand 1) The body is cleansing itself (die off- but this would be from the intro of good food like probiotics and not from junk) or 2) The immune system wasn't reacting before at full capacity because of the constant toxic overload, so when you pull out major triggers all the minor ones start showing up. In our case I think it is the second and we are in the process of blood/ stool testing to figure out sensitivities and to rule out yeast, parasites, etc. Don't have any solutions yet, but wanted to let you know it is ''normal''. been there

Firstly, are you sure this is eczema? I would recommend going to your GP or a dermatologist while you have a flare-up so you can be sure. (I'm only saying this because I had eczema on my arms and legs for many years and it gradually faded, and only in the last year I developed hand eczema. But it was so different than my previous eczema I mistakenly thought it was something else until it was diagnosed by my GP months later).

And in my experience, dietary changes have little impact on the condition. Eczema is best controlled by using a good moisturizer (NOT water based; Aquaphor works well), and by limiting your skin's exposure to water, particularly hot water. I also find that using a very low-grade hydrocortisone cream in small amounts, in combination with the other things, works very well. Good luck to you, and if you find the source of the problem that's great. But sometimes eczema just appears out of nowhere with no obvious cause. Fellow skin sufferer

So sorry about your itchy rash. You're on the right track. Paleo eating is known to clear up many many health problems including skin issues, which are a sign of inflamation of the gut/immune system. Eliminating grains, dairy, soy, sugar, alcohol is definitely the way to go in my opinion. There is a LOT of info on line. Check out,, Robb Wolf, Chris Kresser and Diane Sanfilippo have tons of info on their websites. Unfortunately eggs can often be the culprit in some of these issues, so even with a strict Paleo protocol you may have to experiment w/ typical paleo OK foods like eggs and nightshades. Good luck. I've been Paleo for almost 2 years and at 60, have never felt better and more alive. good luck. Feel free to contact me. husband used to get a ''stress rash'' when he was under a lot of stress. We never found out what it was (some kind of toxic reaction) but since he went Paleo he's never gotten it again, PLUS he doesn't get as stressed as he used to. June K

It sounds like you have some pretty good clues and know the answer already. To identify your dietary triggers, you can think about trying out the 'whole 30'. It's one month of 'clean eating' during which you don't consume dairy, sugar/sweetners of any kind, grains (none), or legumes (green beans okay) or white potato. You eat 'clean' meats and eggs--pastured preferably. Then you introduce the foods you have eliminated back in slowly, one at a time to identify the culprits. I had patchy elbows and knees for years--all patches gone. When you want to introduce grains again, look into traditional methods of preparing them that involve weakening the phytotoxins on the exterior of all grains. The book Nourishing Traditions describes. A local source of prepared foods done in the nourishing traditions manner is three stone hearth (haven't used it yet myself). The whole 30 may sound harsh, but aside from the prep and planning (have leftover meat and organic greens available for lunch at all times) I found it fairly easy. It turned out that 3 fb friends on the other side of the country were doing it too and we shared menu ideas. Made it fun and easy. Jessica

Here's my experience for what it's worth. I developed an itchy rash on my neck and shoulders a few years ago. Other than a few red dots on my neck, it was invisible, but on my shoulders you could feel some raised bumps (but not see them at all!). My astute physician thought maybe it was an allergic reaction to my shampoo and sent me off to Dr. Nickelson to be tested. He tested me for lots of things that might cause contact dermatitis and all came back negative. So he referred me to a contact dermatitis specialist at UCSF named Howard Maibach (I must have good insurance). He is renowned. He tested me for hundreds of allergens, including my shampoo. All came back negative, but by that time I had given up my shampoo for several months and the rash had disappeared (and it's also not unusual for a rash to take that long to go away, despite the removal of the offending agent). Dr. Maibach told me to come back if it ever reappeared. He also told me that false negatives are not unusual in allergy testing. I really do think my rash was a strange reaction to my shampoo. But I really miss that shampoo and every once in awhile I try it again, but sure enough, I start to feel just the tiniest bit itchy (BTW, the shampoo is Garnier Fructis and I do use other of their products with no problem). So anyway, that's my mysterious rash story--maybe it relates to you, maybe not. In my experience the cause of many rashes remains a mystery (even to renowned dermatologists who run a contact dermatitis clinic). Itchy no more

I got rid of my son's eczema by switching to laundry detergent, other soaps and personal care products that had no perfumes and dyes. mom

Sounds like the changes you have made are working, and that your body is detoxing by pushing it out through your skin. Drinking lots of water and kombucha, going for a more alkaline system ie not so much processed foods as you are already trying to do, will support it in its self-cleansing. Consider a cleanse? colonics? Once you get your system clean, any little transgression is widely felt through the system, but it fades soon. Good for you for taking these steps. I have found that not eating wheat, or any baked goods even if they are gluten free, has really improved the way I feel. I have had a hard time actually stopping dark chocolate, but they say it's an antioxidant... so I guess that's OK then. Good luck!

I ate tons of dairy all my life and then gave it up when it caused my infant to get eczema when I breastfed him. When I reintroduced it when he weaned at one year, it made me feel awful (sick tummy) and it gave me eczema. So then I gave it up again and whenever I eat it, I get eczema. Note that after I take dairy out it takes 6-8 weeks for it to clear the system. So if you're testing foods, test them for a long time, not 5-10 days because that isn't long enough. Any way, I would say try dairy first for a few months and see where you are at. anon

Husband developed eczema when he started law school has 

May 2002

I haven't seen this query answered in previous posts, so I put it out to the list: My husband suddenly developed excema when he started law school. Stress related, right? Here's my question: Has anyone hear about the benefits, if any, of accupuncture on this skin condition? The usual steroid creams work great for a few weeks, and then everything comes back even worse. We've got another year to go and I'm worried for his health. It seems we need to treat the root cause. Any info from the knowledgable out there (and a recommendation for accupunturists for this kind of condition) would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, anon., please

My daughter had suffered from exzema since birth to four. If you have experience with this, you know how terrible it gets. Her bed sheets often had blood stains from scratching, which made me cry.I tried everything people recommended, from Chinese herbs, acupuncture, homeopath and of course cortisone creams. Oh, humidifier and etc. Finally,what worked for her was Flax Seed Oil. One spoon in the morning and another in the evening. I came to this conclusion by reading up so much literature in natural healing in attempt to identify my daughter's body condition she was born with. Once I knew what kind of tendencies she was born with, it was easier to do things that would promote her health in general. To make a long story short, what she needed was cooling food and fibrous food. And Flax Seed Oil for her skin condition. I cannot say what really worked. But in a few weeks, her eczema disappeared. She is eight now and she never had anything like what she had. I always put cream on her after she swam. But otherwise I don't do anything special. I must say, though, that each person has a body that is different from the rest. And one should try to find what works for that particular person. The book that helped me the most was called. ''Healing with Whole Foods'' by Paul Pitchford. Good luck annie

This is not to do with acupuncture! However, I had eczema for years that developed when I was 17. I found that just applying corn starch works really well, rubbing in the powder. (I got this inspiration from a midwife who told me it works well for diaper rash...and then I tried it on my eczema.) For me this has been the only thing that helped at all - with steroid creams, as you say, it got better for a while then returned with a vengeance. Corn starch has completely solved the problem for me! Good luck Janice