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Face is itchy and breaking out: What Causes an Itchy Face?

What Causes an Itchy Face?

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An itchy face can be extremely uncomfortable and seem to come out of nowhere. But having an occasionally itchy face isn’t unusual, and there are ways to treat it to get relief.

Read on to find out what conditions cause the skin on your face to itch and how to treat them.

Common causes of itching (also known as pruritus) include dry skin, seasonal allergies, and skin contact with an irritant.

Antibiotics, antifungal, and narcotic pain medications sometimes lead to an itchy face as a side effect.

Less often, an itchy face stems from an internal condition, such as liver disease, thyroid conditions, cancer, or multiple sclerosis. Nutritional deficiencies, such as iron deficiency, can also cause itching.

Identifying other symptoms that occur along with your itchy face might help to diagnose the cause. Here are five specific scenarios for having an itchy face and their most common causes.

Itchy face with a rash

If you have an itchy face along with a rash or hives, or contact dermatitis, you may be having an allergic reaction. In an allergic reaction, your immune system responds to something you’ve come into contact with.

Itching and rash can also be caused by your skin coming into contact with an irritant (without causing your immune system to react), like cleaning chemicals, certain soaps, or some foods.

Psoriasis, rosacea, and perioral dermatitis are all skin conditions that can cause itching along with raised red bumps on your face.

You could also be experiencing a heat rash.

Itchy face without a rash

An itchy face without a rash can seem like a bit of a mystery. Looking to other symptoms can help you figure out where the itch is coming from:

  • If you have an itchy face, no rash, but are experiencing trouble breathing, have a yellowish tinge to your eyes, enlarged glands, and dehydration, you should see your doctor right away. These symptoms could indicate liver problems, jaundice, or Hodgkin’s disease.
  • If you have an itchy face, no rash, and no other major symptoms:
    • You may be iron deficient. (If iron deficiency anemia intensifies, symptoms can become more prominent.)
    • You may be having a mild allergic reaction to something new in your environment.
    • You may have the most common cause of an itchy face: dry skin.
    • You may be sensitive to the water in your bath or shower. For instance, hard water (water that has a high mineral count) can dry out your skin. You might be able to tell if you have hard water: look for signs of white build-up (mineral deposits) on sink and shower faucets.

Itchy face with pimples

Acne bumps sometimes cause itching — and itching your acne may spread bacteria and as a result more acne over your face. Itchy pimples can be influenced by sweating, cosmetics, clogged pores, or hormones.

If your face itches and you also have pimples or cysts, you may have acne vulgaris (regular acne) or cystic acne, which is worth talking to a doctor about for the most effective treatments.

Itchy face while pregnant

Developing an itchy face because of your pregnancy is somewhat rare, but it does happen.

While itching on your body and your baby bump is common during pregnancy, excessive itching on your face and on your hands and feet could be a symptom of a condition called obstetric cholestasis.

This condition comes without a rash. It also brings symptoms of dark urine and pale bowel movements. Obstetric cholestasis typically crops up around 30 weeks of pregnancy.

It needs to be diagnosed and addressed, so speak to your doctor right away if you have anything beyond mild itching during pregnancy.

Neuropathic itch

A neuropathic face itch is caused by the sensors in your face detecting an irritant where one is not present. This is known as a type of sensory hallucination.

Sometimes neurological health conditions, like shingles and multiple sclerosis, can contribute to this feeling of itching.

The treatment for your itchy face will vary depending on what’s causing it. Your doctor will most likely first advise you to stop scratching the skin, as that can further irritate the epidermis and make the condition worsen.

In some cases, itching your face too much can lead to a broken skin barrier that could develop into an infection.

Here are some home remedies for an itchy face:

  • When you feel the itching begin, apply a cool washcloth or a cold compress to your face to calm the itch instead of scratching it.
  • You can also try wiping your face with a wet cloth or washing your face. If the cause is a contact irritant, this may clean it off.
  • Remove yourself from any stressful situation you are in until the itching subsides. Stress can make itching worse.
  • Take a lukewarm bath and splash your face with cool, clean water without using any soap.
  • Purchase an over-the-counter antihistamine cream that’s safe to use on your face. Make sure to avoid the area around your eyes when applying an antihistamine. If symptoms worsen after using an antihistamine, discontinue use and contact your doctor right away.
  • Consider buying an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or a soothing topical lotion like calamine.

Your doctor may also have prescriptions and lifestyle changes to recommend for your itchy face. Commonly prescribed treatments, depending on the cause of an itchy face, include:

  • prescription strength hydrocortisone or antihistamine creams
  • calcineurin inhibitors (immunosuppresants that don’t contain steroids)
  • antidepressants/selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • phototherapy (light therapy)

Start with the basics for skin care:

  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Wash your face with a mild face wash.
  • Use a non-pore-clogging facial moisturizer. There are many on the market made for sensitive skin.

Shop for facial moisturizers.

You can invest in a gentle, hypoallergenic skincare routine that you can follow every day. Use face creams that aren’t chemically dyed or scented. The drier your skin, the more often you should moisturize it.

Certainly, avoid substances, ingredients, or materials that irritate your skin. This can include perfumed soap or detergent, some metals in jewelry (such as nickel), and cleaning products.

Check the ingredients list of your cosmetics to make sure you’re not exposing your face to harsh chemicals or things you are sensitive to.

And if your cosmetics are older than 6 to 12 months, consider replacing them.

During the colder months, forced air heating can make your skin drier. Consider using a humidifier to keep your skin from getting drier.

Also consider changing the temperature of your shower. While hot showers can feel invigorating, lukewarm or cool water is ideal for protecting the moisture levels in your skin.

See your doctor if the itching on your face:

  • persists for more than two weeks even with the use of home remedies and over-the-counter creams
  • is accompanied by other symptoms such as extreme fatigue, weight loss, or persistent fever
  • distracts or inhibits your daily life because it is so uncomfortable and aggravating
  • results in broken skin that looks like it could become (or has become) infected

When you talk to a doctor or dermatologist about your itchy face, you might be asked for a list of medications or supplements that you take. If you don’t already have a dermatologist, you can browse doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool. Keeping a daily journal for a few days before your appointment is a good idea. You can note:

  • medications
  • foods
  • your activities
  • anxiety/stress levels
  • any other factors that you feel could be significant

Your doctor may need to do tests to figure out what’s causing your face to itch:

  • A chest X-ray may be performed to rule out cardiovascular conditions.
  • A skin biopsy may be prescribed so that your doctor can test the health of your different skin layers and see how your skin looks on a cellular level.
  • Your doctor may also order blood tests to see if there is a nutritional deficiency or unknown allergy at play.

As hard as it can be, the best treatment for an itchy face is to leave it alone and resist the urge to scratch it.

Most cases of itchy skin can be treated with a cold compress or a cool shower and won’t come back if you avoid whatever triggered your reaction.

A daily cleaning and moisturizing routine can also keep itchy face symptoms at bay.

If the itching is accompanied by other symptoms and doesn’t go away, call a doctor or dermatologist to make sure there’s no other health condition causing your face to itch.

Managing Itchy Acne: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Managing Itchy Acne: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

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Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, FAANP — By Alex Snyder — Updated on September 26, 2018


Acne is a skin condition that affects nearly everybody at one point or another. Most teens experience acne during puberty, and many people continue to struggle with acne throughout adulthood. It’s a common condition caused by inflammation of the skin glands and hair follicles. The most typical contributors to acne are:

  • overproduction of sebum, an oily product of the sebaceous glands that is responsible for lubricating the skin and hair
  • skin pores clogged by dirt, dead skin cells, and other debris
  • bacterial infection of the sebaceous glands
  • stress

Acne can be itchy, painful, and irritating. We know what causes acne, but what makes it itch?

Acne can begin to itch for a few different reasons. The most common reason is due to the friction and dryness of skin cells that are the result of clogged and cramped pores. When skin becomes dry, its nature is to itch.

Other itchy triggers include:

  • allergies
  • skin reactions to chemicals like benzoyl peroxide
  • heat, which can intensify itching
  • sunlight/UV light
  • sweat

On a positive note, itchiness can be a sign indicating that the acne is getting better. When acne is healing, the red, pustular skin needs to be replaced with new, healthy skin. During this process, your body exfoliates, or sheds old layers of skin to uncover new layers of skin. The dry, flaky, and dead skin cells are part of the healing process, but they can also cause uncomfortable itching sensations.

Everyone understands the maddening sensation of being itchy, and the uncontrollable desire to scratch and rub the itch away. However, when it comes to itchy acne, it’s very important to avoid doing so. In addition to harming your skin, scratching the acne hotspots can cause:

  • permanent scarring
  • lesions and infection
  • aggravated acne symptoms

Perhaps the most important reason you shouldn’t scratch the affected skin is because you run the risk of popping or piercing the pimple. This can cause the bacteria inside the pimple to spread to other parts of your body and create more outbreaks.

However, you don’t need to suffer the itchiness without relief. There are ways to treat these uncomfortable itchy pimples and their annoying itching sensations.

There are many different approaches to treating itchy acne. Common treatments include:

  • washing pimples after they burst (using a mild soap fortified with a moisturizer)
  • keeping your hands clean and not touching the affected areas
  • avoiding overexposure to the sun
  • applying light moisturizers with aloe vera to control dryness, redness, and inflammation
  • applying calamine lotion
  • using antihistamines to control sebum secretion and prevent itching
  • taking antibiotics prescribed by a doctor

While there are many different treatments for itchy acne, the main points to keep in mind are keeping your skin moisturized, clean, and safe from abrasion.

Itchy acne is an uncomfortable and extremely common affliction. Clogged pores primarily cause acne. Itchiness is caused by dryness and irritation. While scratching may bring relief in the short term, it can make acne symptoms worse, so it’s important to resist the urge. Various at-home and over-the-counter treatments are available to manage itchy symptoms, but it’s important to speak to your doctor or dermatologist about the best approach for you. You can book an appointment with a dermatologist in your area using our Healthline FindCare tool.

With patience, acne and its associated itchiness can be overcome to reveal clearer, brighter, and healthier skin just below the surface.

Last medically reviewed on June 25, 2018

How we reviewed this article:

Healthline has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  • Acne. (n.d.).
  • Antihistamine: A useful medication with minimal adverse drug reactions to improve acne symptoms and reduce sebum production. (2015).
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017). Acne.
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Folliculitis.

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Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, FAANP — By Alex Snyder — Updated on September 26, 2018

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main causes of itching” — Yandex Q




Editor-in-Chief Y.Health


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App and website for online consultations with doctors 20 Feb 2020 · health.yandex.ru

Irritated facial skin always causes significant discomfort. Sometimes it is enough to adjust cosmetic care to get rid of unpleasant itching. However, in some cases, the cause of such dermatological problems can be much more serious. Why a face can itch and when a doctor’s help is needed, MedAboutMe figured it out.

Skin features: dry and sensitive, aging

Individual features of the skin are most pronounced on the face. People with dry and sensitive skin may experience itching and irritation if:

  • They stay in a room with dry air for a long time (for example, when the air conditioner is running).
  • Washing with too hot water.
  • Do not follow the drinking regimen, especially on hot days.
  • Does not protect the skin on windy and cold days.
  • Incorrect care of the skin of the face – do not use moisturizers, use alcohol-based cosmetics, etc.
  • There has been contact with dusty or gassy air.

Itching of the face is a common complaint in the elderly. Most often, this is due precisely to the characteristics of the skin itself, because with age it loses moisture, becomes less elastic, and is more susceptible to various damages.

allergic reactions

An allergic reaction is another common cause of facial itching. First of all, it can be provoked by cosmetic products, such as cream, powder, washing lotion or just soap. However, redness and itching of the skin can also occur as a result of contact with nickel. It is found in jewelry, eyeglass frames, and even in the body of a mobile phone that a person holds near their ear.

Contact dermatitis may be associated with plants. So, oak, poison ivy, wild rose, sumac are considered quite strong allergens. Itching on the skin can appear after a person has touched the plant with his hands, and then touched his face. Scientists from Yale University studied the causes of such a reaction and came to the conclusion that the TRPA1 protein is responsible for plant allergy. The experiments were carried out on mice, and those individuals who did not have this protein did not suffer from allergies. The discovery provides an opportunity to develop new drugs for contact dermatitis, since standard antihistamines are often not effective enough for such patients.

Dermatitis also occurs as a reaction to various foods eaten. So, strawberries, chocolate, nuts, milk, eggs, fish and seafood often lead to allergies. In this case, a person develops an itchy small rash, inflammation on the face, and other symptoms are also observed – indigestion, runny nose, breathing problems. A similar reaction may occur to certain medications – aspirin, opioid analgesics, certain blood pressure medications.

Infections and parasites

Some infectious diseases are accompanied by severe rash and itching. As a rule, they spread to most of the body, but the first pimples and redness may appear on the face. The symptom is typical for the following diseases:

  • Chicken pox and other herpetic infections.
  • Measles.
  • Rubella.
  • Infectious erythema.
  • Streptoderma.

Such diseases begin acutely and in the overwhelming majority of cases are accompanied by other symptoms – high fever, general weakness, mucosal lesions. If you suspect an infection, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Severe itching of the skin of the face may be associated with parasites. In this case, unlike infectious diseases, no other symptoms will appear. A person complains only of constant inflammation, various skin lesions and very intense itching, which intensifies at night. Parasitic lesions include the following:

  • Skin demodicosis.
  • Scabies.
  • Schistosomatid dermatitis (bather’s itch).

Psoriasis and eczema

Chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema also cause skin damage and itching. With psoriasis, the affected areas are very flaky, redden and begin to itch. If the disease progresses, the spots merge over time, forming extensive hardened plaques. When combing, wounds are formed, which are then difficult and take a long time to heal. Psoriasis is a chronic disease with alternating remissions and exacerbations. Relapses are caused by stress, emotional experiences, hormonal changes, and alcohol abuse.

Severe itching is also accompanied by atopic eczema, which first appears in childhood and is provoked by allergies. Over time, it can completely disappear, but doctors still classify the disease as chronic. This means that in adulthood a relapse can occur – an allergy will lead to painful and extensive skin damage.

Other types of eczema are not always accompanied by itching. However, if the disease affects large areas of the skin, such a symptom still manifests itself. In this case, severe forms of the disease can pose a threat to the body as a whole. For example, researchers from Cardiff University in Wales studied data from more than 385,000 adults with eczema and concluded that such skin lesions are associated with the risk of cardiovascular disease. In patients with severe eczema, the risk of stroke increased by 20%, the risk of unstable angina, heart attack, atrial fibrillation by 40-50%, and the risk of heart failure by 70%.

Itching as a symptom of other diseases

Prolonged itching of the skin is not always a sign of dermatological problems. So, it is observed in people with the following diagnoses:

  • Kidney disease, chronic renal failure.
  • Cirrhosis of the liver, chronic hepatitis B and C.
  • Diseases of the biliary tract, primarily cholestasis, cholelithiasis.
  • Diabetes mellitus type 1 and 2.
  • HIV.
  • Multiple sclerosis.

In the case of these diagnoses, itching of the skin may not be accompanied by redness or peeling, but other symptoms are observed:

  • Poor wound healing.
  • Indigestion.
  • Nausea.
  • Unreasonable change in weight (both fullness and weight loss).
  • General malaise, weakness.

If these symptoms are present, it is essential to be examined and treated as soon as possible. In diseases of the liver and kidneys, as well as diabetes, it is important to monitor nutrition – sometimes it is the correction of the diet that can significantly reduce itching. Most studies suggest that a low-protein diet is beneficial – meat dishes, eggs are excluded from the diet, sour-milk is minimized. At the same time, scientists at McMaster University, who analyzed data from 28 papers over 1975-2016, came to the conclusion that this approach may be erroneous. Protein products, in their opinion, do not reduce kidney function, but, on the contrary, can help with diseases of the internal organs. Therefore, the diet should be selected together with the doctor and taking into account the patient’s condition.

Another reason for scratching the skin is various neuroses, depressions, and so on. At the same time, nervous itching can be quite pronounced and debilitating. Sometimes patients cause significant damage to themselves, non-healing deep wounds appear on the skin, severe redness. Therefore, with such a symptom, the patient can be referred for a consultation with a psychotherapist.

Skin cancer

Skin cancer is one of the most dangerous causes of itching. Basalioma is the most common, accounting for about 60-80%, and the most dangerous type is melanoma. You can distinguish a malignant neoplasm from a normal mole by the following features:

  • Asymmetry.
  • Rough edges.
  • Inflammation and itching.
  • Sores inside a mole.
  • Non-uniform color.
  • Increase in size.

Therefore, if there are moles on the skin of the face that itch, and the combed areas bleed and do not heal, it is necessary to undergo an examination. The sooner skin cancer treatment is started, the better the prognosis for recovery.

Shutterstock photographs used

Sources used

  1. Changes in Kidney Function Do Not Differ between Healthy Adults Consuming Higher- Compared with Lower- or Normal-Protein Diets: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis / Devries M., Sithamparapillai A. , Brimble K., et al // The Journal of Nutrition. = 2018. – No. 148. – 11
  2. Itch and neuropathic itch / Hachisuka J. , Chiang M., Ross S. // PAIN. = 2018. – No. 159(3)
  3. Structural and biophysical characteristics of human skin in maintaining proper epidermal barrier function / Boer M., Duchnik E., Maleszka R., Marchlewicz M. // Postepy Dermatologii I Alergologii. = 2016. – No. 33(1)
  4. p53-Regulated Long Noncoding RNA PRECSIT Promotes Progression of Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma via STAT3 Signaling / Piipponen M., Nissinen L., Riihilä P. et al // The American Journal of Pathology. = 2020. – No. 190(2)
  5. Hepatitis C virus-associated pruritus: Etiopathogenesis and therapeutic strategies / Alhmada Y., Selimovic D., Murad F. et al // World Journal of Gastroenterology. = 2017. – No. 23(5)

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Doctors answer the most painful questions about health

Eucerin: Atopic skin | Atopic dermatitis on the face

Atopic dermatitis is a very common chronic skin disease that affects adults, children and infants. The skin on the face and body becomes very dry and irritated. Atopic dermatitis usually has two phases: active (also known as flare-ups or “flares”) and inactive. It is important for patients to protect the skin during inactive phases in order to maximize their duration.

Signs and symptoms

Atopic dermatitis (or atopic eczema) is a non-contagious chronic disease in which the skin on the face and/or body is constantly dry, itchy and irritated. In other words, it is an inflammatory disease that is becoming more and more common, especially in the West. It occurs in 10% of the world’s population (10-20% of children and 2-5% of adults), and over the past 30 years, the number of cases has increased by 200-300%.

Infants and young children are most commonly affected. In 90% of patients, symptoms occur before the age of five, and in 80% before the age of two.

In young children, the face is most commonly affected, although the rash may spread to the body with age. In addition, atopic dermatitis on the face can occur in people of all ages and usually appears as dry, scaly patches on the scalp, forehead, around the eyes, and behind the ears. The rash can also be on the cheeks, particularly in children.

The set of symptoms may differ depending on the person, on the season, even every day. Patients describe two phases in atopic skin conditions – inactive (“break”) and acute (“flash”).

During exacerbations, patients feel: itching (from mild to intense) and redness of the skin, peeling, uneven swelling, the skin may hurt and even bleed slightly.

During the resting phase, there are symptoms of dry to very dry skin, flaking and irritation (a condition – not a disease – known as xerosis), and the affected area may have small, healed fissures.

Like the symptoms caused by skin irritation itself, atopic dermatitis can lead to further physical and psychological problems such as lack of sleep, bias, stress, and a general lack of self-confidence – especially in the case of atopic dermatitis on the face. As a result, sufferers often restrict their daily lives by changing their clothes, their diet, cosmetics, and the activities in which they participate. If the sufferer feels that his or her attractiveness is diminishing, this may affect their personal life as well.

Symptoms of an exacerbation can be severe itching, red or dark red skin, peeling, pain, and even slight bleeding of the skin.

  1. Your skin is dry and reddened and, unlike dry and very dry skin, it cannot be healed, it can only be treated.
  2. Your skin is prone to flaking, thickening and cracking. The skin itches intensely and tends to become red and inflamed. This is due not only to a lack of moisture, but also to a violation of the metabolism of fatty acids, which leads to the destruction of the barrier function of the skin.
  3. Your dry skin has flare-ups.

If you are not sure about your symptoms, please consult your doctor or dermatologist.

Causes and factors contributing to the appearance of atopic dermatitis

There is no single cause of atopic dermatitis. There is also, unfortunately, no cure for it. However, trigger avoidance and daily active intensive care can prolong the healthy phases of atopic skin, while skin care during a flare-up provides rapid skin relief and recovery.

There are several genetic and environmental reasons why some people develop atopic dermatitis and others do not. They include:

If a parent has atopic dermatitis, asthma, or hay fever, then the child is at increased risk of getting sick.

Communication with heredity . Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema and is closely associated with asthma and hay fever. If both parents have atopic dermatitis, then the child will inherit this disease in 60-80%.

Climate / pollution . Living in a developed country, a city (especially one with high levels of pollution), or a cold climate is more likely to increase the risk of the disease. For example, Jamaican children living in London have twice the risk of developing atopic dermatitis than those living in Jamaica.

Pos. Women are slightly more susceptible to atopic dermatitis(s) than men.

The age of the mother when she gave birth. The older the mother, the greater the risk that the child will develop atopic dermatitis.

There are four pathogenetic factors of atopic dermatitis :

1. Congenital deficiency of filaggrin; lack of natural moisturizing factors (NMFs), such as amino acids.
2. Violation of epidermal lipid metabolism (ceramides, cholesterol and free fatty acids) and violation of lipid barrier formation.

This results in dry skin with impaired barrier function. In this case, the skin becomes open to infections:

3. Growth of bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus) and secretion of super antigens.
4. Environmental factors such as irritants, allergens, pollution.

Dry and irritated skin leads to inflammation and itching. Constant itching can lead to constant scratching. It damages the skin barrier, promotes the development of a moist environment for the reproduction of bacteria. And this, in turn, causes irritation and further itching and inflammation. This completes the cycle of atopic skin (see illustration).

Factors contributing to the development of atopic dermatitis

There are a number of other interventions that may exacerbate existing symptoms, although they vary from person to person. These include:

There are factors such as (among others) stress and insomnia that can worsen the symptoms of atopic dermatitis.

• certain foods and drinks (particularly dairy products, nuts, shellfish and alcohol)
• allergens (house mites, pollen and/or dust)
• formaldehyde
• detergents
• stress
• insomnia
• sweating
• cigarette smoke

Learn more about the factors that affect the skin.


While the symptoms of atopic dermatitis cannot be “cured”, they can be controlled with consistent and regular care.


It is recommended to use bath and shower additives that moisturize the skin.

Emollients (or otherwise moisturizers) are the foundation of skin care and should be used daily, regardless of the active or inactive phase of the disease. These include lotions, face creams, ointments, and bath/shower supplements that lubricate the skin and help keep it supple, hydrated, and protected from irritants. It also helps with itching and may reduce the frequency of flare-ups.

The role of emollients is to prevent the exacerbation of atopic dermatitis. This is called basic care.

Key softeners include :

Omega-6 fatty acids from evening primrose and grape seed extract. They soothe and nourish affected skin while restoring the skin’s natural protective barrier.
• Licochalcone A (licorice root extract). It is a natural antioxidant with anti-inflammatory action that reduces redness and soothes inflammation.

Dermatological care

Treatment with medications, such as topical ointments (usually containing hydrocortisone), can help relieve symptoms of a flare-up and help reduce any inflammation and itching.

Corticosteroids are very effective, fast acting and relieve itching in cases of severe flare-ups. However, they are not suitable for long-term continuous use as they may cause negative side effects. In addition, they can be applied to large areas of the skin; continuous use reduces their effectiveness.

Atopic Dermatitis Individual Daily Facial

Try to control daily care, for example, by making appropriate notes.

The cold temperatures of are beneficial, especially at night, as sweating causes irritation and itching.
Basic care products are best kept refrigerated as cold creams and lotions provide additional relief from itching.