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Acne & Eczema

By Karen Cashin ; Updated August 14, 2017

The phrase “put your best face forward” can seem like a challenge to those who suffer from acne and/or eczema. Having lesions or inflammation on the skin and front and center for all to see can be a socially and emotionally trying condition. Acne and eczema can be treated to help relieve the anxiety of social interaction.

Acne states that acne is the general term for breakouts of lesions on the skin. A comedo is the basic form of acne, which means a pore is plugged. When the comedo is open, it is called a blackhead because the air reacts with the excess oil in the comedo. When the comedo is closed over and stays under the skin, it is called a whitehead. Pimples form when the lesions have pus and are red at the base. Cysts are deeper in the skin, filled with pus and are usually painful.


According to, eczema is actually a term applied to a number of different skin conditions where the skin is irritated, red, and sometimes has small, fluid-filled bumps that ooze and are moist. The skin can also itch and blister. Eczema is often referred to as dermatitis. Common forms of eczema include atopic dermatitis, which is the most common form, contact dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis. Eczema cannot be passed from person to person and most forms require daily care.


Acne is caused by a combination of excess oil secretion, a buildup of bacteria and irritation of the tiny hair follicles on the skin. When the body produces too much oil or sebum, it clogs the pores on the surface of the skin, allowing the buildup of dirt and bacteria, which then irritates the hair follicles. Hormone fluctuations also exacerbate the problem.

Eczema has multiple causes. Contact dermatitis is the result of the skin coming in contact with an irritant like detergent. Current research on atopic dermatitis indicates the cause to be a combination of factors like genetics, an overactive immune system and a so-called “barrier defect.” This “barrier defect” means a gap in the skin which allows the skin to lose water quickly and other germs and molecules to enter the skin.


Acne can be treated at home with over-the-counter products. Wash the face twice a day with a gentle cleanser and warm water. Over-the-counter spot medications may be used to help alleviate acne. These products may have benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, resorcinol or salicylic acid. If acne does not get better within eight weeks, a doctor can recommend a more intensive treatment plan.

Eczema is often treated with topical medications like cortisone or steroid creams or ointments. These treatments are normally applied right to the skin twice a day. An antihistamine may also be prescribed to help relieve any itching. If eczema is severe or does not respond to topical therapies, ultraviolet light therapy or systemic medication may be recommended.


Acne should not be squeezed or scratched off. This can cause the acne to spread and leave scarring. Avoid touching the face and avoid using greasy creams or cosmetics. For many with eczema, the condition goes into remission and symptoms may not appear for months or years. Some triggers can make eczema worse, and avoiding specific triggers can help prevent flare-ups. Diagnosing eczema may be challenging because the symptoms may closely mirror other conditions.

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