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Last Updated on September 18, 2023

Eczema, a common skin condition affecting millions worldwide, comes in various forms and can manifest in different areas of the body. One particular type, known as flexural eczema (FE), deserves attention due to its unique characteristics and challenges. In this blog, we will uncover the symptoms of this condition, explore treatment options, and discover effective prevention strategies.

Understanding Eczema

What is Eczema?

Eczema, also called dermatitis, is a collective term for skin conditions characterized by inflammation, redness, itching, and discomfort. Flexural eczema is just one of the many variations of this condition.

The Impact of Eczema

Eczema can have a significant impact on one’s quality of life. It often leads to physical discomfort, emotional distress, and even social isolation. Understanding the symptoms and triggers is essential for effective management.

What is Flexural Eczema?

Identifying Symptoms

FE primarily affects the skin’s folds and creases, such as the inner elbows, behind the knees, and in the groin area. It presents unique symptoms, including redness, itching, and the development of painful, itchy rashes.

What is a Flexural Area?

Flexural areas, also known as flexures or body folds, refer to the regions of the body where the skin naturally folds or creases during movement or at rest. These areas typically have a greater degree of skin-to-skin contact and may be more prone to moisture accumulation, friction, and irritation. Flexural areas can vary from person to person, but common examples include:

  • Inside of Elbows

The skin on the inner side of the elbows often forms a fold when the arm is bent.

  • Behind the Knees

When the knee is bent, the skin on the back of the knee forms a fold.

  • Neck Folds

In infants and young children, neck folds can be prominent, and in adults, there may still be skin folds in this area.

  • Groin

The area where the thigh meets the torso can have skin folds, especially in individuals with excess body weight.

  • Underarms

The skin in the underarm area can fold when the arm is lowered or relaxed.

  • Abdominal Folds

In some individuals, especially those with excess abdominal skin, there may be folds in the lower abdomen.

  • Buttocks Crease

The crease between the buttocks and the upper thigh is another example of a flexural area.

Why Does Eczema Occur in Flexures?

Consider the following factors when understanding why eczema manifests in these areas:

  • Skin Structure

Compared to other parts of the body, the skin in flexural areas, such as elbows, knees, and the neck, is thinner and more delicate. Thinner skin means there is a lesser barrier to protect against environmental irritants and allergens.

  • Friction and Moisture

Flexural areas are subject to frequent friction and moisture accumulation. When the skin rubs together in these areas, it can create warmth and moisture, providing an ideal environment for the growth of microorganisms like bacteria and fungi. This can irritate the skin and trigger eczema flare-ups.

  • Skin Folding

Flexures are areas where the skin naturally folds and creases during movement. These folds can trap sweat, moisture, and allergens, making them more susceptible to irritation and inflammation. The constant movement and rubbing can also damage the skin’s protective barrier.

  • Sweat and Heat

Sweating is more common in flexural areas due to the concentration of sweat glands. Sweat contains salts and other substances that can irritate the skin when they dry and leave behind residues. Additionally, the combination of sweat and heat can further exacerbate eczema symptoms.

  • Allergic Sensitivity

Eczema is often associated with allergies and sensitivities to various substances, such as pollen, dust mites, certain foods, and pet dander. These allergens can easily come into contact with the skin in flexural areas, triggering an inflammatory response.

  • Microbial Infections

Microorganisms, such as Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, commonly colonize eczema-prone skin. These bacteria can exacerbate eczema symptoms by releasing toxins that irritate the skin and cause flare-ups. Flexural areas provide a favorable environment for bacterial growth due to their warmth and moisture.

  • Genetic Predisposition

Eczema often has a genetic component, meaning it can run in families. Individuals with a family history of eczema may have a genetically weakened skin barrier, making them more susceptible to eczema development, particularly in flexural areas.

  • Scratching and Itching

Eczema is intense itching, and flexural areas are easily accessible for scratching. Repeated scratching can damage the skin, worsen inflammation, and contribute to the persistence of eczema in these regions.

What Causes Flexural Eczema?

Several factors contribute to the development and exacerbation of Eczema in flexures. However, in this blog, we will explore genetic predisposition, environmental factors, allergens, and lifestyle choices as potential causes.

Flexural Eczema Treatment Options

  • Topical Steroids

Topical steroids are often the first line of treatment for eczema, including the flexural type.

  • Moisturizers

Proper moisturization is crucial for managing flexural eczema.

  • Antihistamines

Antihistamines can help alleviate the itching associated with eczema. However, they do not address the root causes.

  • Non-Steroidal Topical Medications

In cases where topical steroids are ineffective, physicians prescribe non-steroidal topical medications like calcineurin inhibitors.

  • Lifestyle and Dietary Changes

Diet and lifestyle can significantly impact the management of FE.

  • Immunomodulators

Dermatologists may prescribe immunomodulators for severe and persistent cases of eczema.

Prevention Strategies

  • Identifying Triggers

Identifying and avoiding triggers is crucial to prevent flexural eczema flare-ups.

  • Skin Care Regimen

A well-defined skincare routine can help prevent eczema flare-ups.

  • Allergen Management

Allergens can exacerbate eczema symptoms. However, you can do allergen management in your home and daily life.

  • Stress Reduction

Stress is a known trigger for eczema. We will explore stress reduction techniques, including mindfulness and relaxation exercises, to minimize its impact.

  • Clothing and Fabric Choices

Choosing the right clothing materials and styles can reduce friction and irritation in flexural areas. We will offer guidance on selecting comfortable clothing options.

  • Hydration and Diet

Staying well-hydrated and maintaining a balanced diet can support healthy skin.

Coping with Flexural Eczema

  • Emotional Well-Being

Dealing with flexural eczema can take an emotional toll.

  • Seeking Professional Help

When eczema becomes unmanageable, consulting a dermatologist is essential.

Does Flexural Eczema Go Away?

The condition can vary in its course and severity from person to person. Some individuals may experience temporary flare-ups that resolve relatively quickly, while others may have chronic or recurring symptoms. Whether eczema goes away or not depends on several factors:

  • Triggers and Causes

Identifying and addressing the underlying causes and triggers of flexural eczema is crucial. Common triggers include allergens, irritants, stress, and certain foods. However, if these triggers can be identified and managed, it may help in reducing or even eliminating symptoms.

  • Skincare Routine

Maintaining a proper skincare routine is essential in managing eczema. However, this includes gentle cleansing, moisturizing, and avoiding harsh soaps and detergents that can worsen symptoms. Furthermore, using prescribed or over-the-counter topical treatments, such as corticosteroid creams or ointments can also help control eczema flares.

  • Avoiding Scratching

Scratching eczema-prone skin can worsen inflammation and prolong symptoms. However, it’s essential to resist the urge to scratch and to keep fingernails short to minimize skin damage.

  • Lifestyle Factors

Lifestyle choices can impact eczema. Moreover, maintaining a healthy diet, managing stress, staying hydrated, and avoiding excessive heat and sweat can all lead to improvement.

  • Medical Treatment

In some cases, flexural eczema may require medical intervention. However, a healthcare provider may prescribe stronger topical medications, oral medications, or immunosuppressant drugs to control symptoms. Additionally, the use of phototherapy (light therapy) or other advanced treatments becomes an option in severe cases.

  • Long-Term Management

In most cases, FE can be a chronic condition, meaning it may not completely go away for some individuals. However, the goal is to manage and minimize symptoms through ongoing care, lifestyle adjustments, and treatment.


In conclusion, flexural eczema, affecting the skin’s folds and creases, presents unique challenges for those who experience it. However, with the right knowledge, treatment options, and prevention strategies, individuals can effectively manage and potentially prevent eczema flare-ups in these areas. By understanding the symptoms, causes, and treatment choices, those dealing with eczema in flexural areas can regain control of their skin’s health and overall well-being.


MetroBoston Clinical Partners is a well established and experienced research center in the greater Boston area. Under the leadership of qualified physicians and medical professionals, we coordinate a range of clinical research trials in Dermatology and Internal Medicine.

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