Flexural Eczema: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention

What is Flexural Eczema?

Eczema is a skin condition that leads to irritated, red, and itchy skin. It has various types, the most common being atopic dermatitis. Flexural eczema describes the location, the eczema rash occurs. It appears on the creases of the joints, elbow, and knees. It can also occur in the ankle, wrist, and neck. Flexural eczema is most commonly seen occurring in late childhood and adulthood.(1)

Causes of Flexural Eczema

The exact cause of eczema is unknown but it is believed to occur due to the following reasons:

  • Genetic factors, as it may influence, whether someone would develop eczema or not.
  • Environment factors like allergens, chemicals, or any stimuli that may initiate the occurrence or flare of eczema

People with eczema have an overactive immune system that keeps on overreacting to substances inside or outside the body resulting in inflammation.

Evidence suggests that people with eczema have mutations in the FLG gene that encodes filaggrin, a protein. Filaggrin plays the role of creating a protective barrier between the skin and the environment. Lack of a protective barrier makes the skin dry and prone to infection.

Symptoms of Flexural Eczema

In flexural eczema, there are red, irritated, and itchy patches of the skin near the joints. The symptoms clear up for a while and again return several weeks, months, and years later.

The symptoms of flexural eczema start with itching on the skin and later develop into a rash as a person itches the area.

Eczema can occur at any age and the symptoms may also differ in people. The rash may look different based on age.

In babies, eczema mostly occurs on the face, scalp, and extensors such as the front of the knee and back of the elbow. Children and adolescents are more likely to develop rashes on the creases of the elbow and knees. Other areas where eczema is found occurring frequently are the neck, wrist, and ankle.

The signs and symptoms of eczema include:

  • Itchy and scaly patches
  • Rashes on the elbow
  • Discoloration of the skin near the rash
  • Thickening of the skin due to chronic itching and rubbing

Treatment of Flexural Eczema

There is no cure for eczema, but its severity can be lessened and the flare-ups can be prevented. Medication involves topical and systemic medications. The topical medications can be applied directly to the rash during a flare-up.

Doctors also recommend phototherapy for the treatment of eczema, it helps in reducing the severity and helps in healing of the skin.

Systemic medications such as methotrexate, cyclosporine, and mycophenolate mofetil are also recommended.

Some alternative therapies also prove to be useful in giving relief. Home treatments that help in easing flexural eczema are:

  • Oatmeal bath
  • Petroleum jelly, moisturizing creams, and ointments
  • Cool compresses
  • Distraction to itch

How to Prevent Flexural Eczema?

Flexural eczema can be prevented by avoiding the triggers. There are several treatment options that can prevent flare ups. Also, keeping the skin moisturized can be effective in preventing its recurrence. The flare-ups can also be prevented by staying hydrated and wearing breathable fabrics, particularly in hot weather.

An allergy test can be performed as it helps in knowing the allergens and avoiding them.

Children can outgrow eczema as their age advances to adults. There are a few factors that can predict whether eczema would subside or go away completely over time.

The factors include:

  • Symptom severity, as the cases with severe symptoms, are more likely to continue till adulthood.
  • The time of onset of eczema. The cases where eczema starts later in life are more likely to last longer.
  • The persistency of the disease.

Flexural eczema is a type of eczema that is more common in children and adolescents. It can go away with age but stays in some till later in life. The symptoms can be taken care of by taking prescription medications and alternative treatments. Symptoms can also be improved or treated by home remedies. It is always good to speak with the doctor so that the condition is diagnosed and taken care of, from the beginning.