Eczema and acne are two different skin issues with virtually opposing causes, but unfortunately they can occasionally both happen to the same person at the same time!
What's the difference?
Eczema is an inflammatory condition where the skin overreacts to triggers, and doesn't make enough oil for a robust skin barrier; it can look red, inflamed, rashy or extremely dry. Acne, on the other hand, is characterised by spotty skin, and happens when to an overproduction of those same natural oils leads to blocked pores which can get inflamed and infected.
Why can you get both at once?
Primarily, it’s because they tend to affect different areas of the body, where skin has different characteristics and is reacting in different ways to different triggers. It’s possible, for example, to suffer from acne on the face, where the skin is thin and has a tendency to oiliness - especially when you’re undergoing hormonal changes - and eczema on the legs, arms and trunk, where skin is thicker and can get very dry and itchy.
Sometimes people can get eczema and acne at the same time and more or less the same place. It’s just that there are different things going on, which both affect the skin.
The problem comes when the products you’re using to treat one condition actually trigger the other! Many acne treatments, which are designed to dry out the skin and reduce sebum production, are not great for eczema-prone skin, which is thirsty for moisture and needs its oils replenishing. And some prescribed eczema treatments, such as powerful steroids, can cause outbreaks of acne.
What can you do about it?
If your skin has a tendency to both eczema and acne, you might find it worthwhile adopting a very gentle skincare regime that will work to soothe and balance both problems. It might include looking at diet, environmental triggers and stress management techniques, and only using products that won’t flare up your sensitive skin.
- Use unfragranced products: scent is a prime culprit for triggering breakouts
- Find skincare that uses low-comedogenic oils, so it won’t clog pores
- Moisturise regularly with gentle, nourishing creams
- Avoid high-alkaline soaps and washes; go for SLS/sulphate-free cleansers instead
- Wash in luke-warm (not hot, not cold) water, and don’t soak your skin!
- Eat a non-inflammatory, Omega-rich diet
- Find strategies to manage your stress: stress causes skin issues
- Use different products on different areas: you can use a rich balm like Skin Salvation on dry, eczema-prone areas, Balmonds Scalp Oil as a topical rescue oil on spots, and a light cream (like our Cooling Cream or Daily Moisturising Cream) on acne-prone facial skin.
Skin Salvation with beeswax, hemp & calendula (from £7.99 for 30ml)
Balmonds Scalp Oil with tea tree, borage & rosemary (£14.99 for 50ml)
Balmonds Daily Moisturising Cream with shea butter, hemp & chamomile (from £13.99 for 100ml)
Balmonds Cooling Cream with menthol, aloe & lavender (£19 for 100ml)
Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash with nettle & calendula (£19 for 200ml)
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.