What Is Asteatotic Eczema And How To Treat It?

Asteatotic eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that’s caused by very dry skin. Sometimes called xerotic (dry) eczema or craquelé (French for cracked) eczema, asteatotic eczema is characterized by a red, dry, and itchy rash that resembles cracked paving stones.

It is a type of eczema that is more common in the elderly.

Symptoms Of Asteatotic Eczema

The most common symptoms of asteatotic eczema include diamond-shaped patches or plates of skin separated by red bands and dry, flakey patches of skin on the 

  • Shins
  • Lower legs
  • Thighs
  • Chest
  • Arms
  • Trunk
  • Back 

 In some cases, severe asteatotic eczema can cause swelling and surface blistering.

Some of the other prominent symptoms that you may notice on your skin are:

  • Cracked skin
  • Extreme dry skin
  • Fissures
  • Scaly skin
  • Intense itching
  • Skin tightening
  • Inflammation 

It is important to take proper care of the skin and treatment as severe cases of asteatotic eczema can lead to nummular eczema, swelling, and severe itching.

Causes of Asteatotic Eczema

Asteatotic eczema is mostly caused by water loss of the stratum corneum, otherwise known as extreme skin dryness.

The outer layers of our skin need 10-20% water concentration in order to stay healthy, and the free fatty acids that live in our skin help hold onto that necessary moisture. Most people who suffer from asteatotic eczema have a large decrease in free fatty acids, and when there is a loss of those fatty acids, skin loses moisture much more easily than in healthy skin.

This moisture loss causes skin cells to shrink and lose elasticity, creating asteatotic eczema cracks or fissures on the skin’s surface. Sometimes, these fissures are so deep that they injure the small blood vessels in the skin, which causes superficial bleeding and redness. The moisture loss can also cause itchy skin, sometimes called pruritis, which is another common symptom of asteatotic eczema.

Risk Factors For Developing Asteatotic Eczema

The skin barrier and its important fatty acids can be damaged or lost in a variety of ways, making the skin prone to asteatotic eczema:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Old age
  • Low humidity
  • Cold, dry air
  • Medication and steroid use
  • Neurologic disorders
  • Use of harsh products
  • Excessive bathing
  • Lack of moisturizing
  • Nutritional deficiency 

Who Can Get Asteatotic Eczema?

Anyone with very dry skin is at risk for asteatotic eczema, but it most often affects people who are:

  • Elderly
  • Suffering from underactive thyroids or malnutrition
  • Undergoing antiandrogen therapy
  • Using retinoids, protein kinase inhibitors, or diuretics
  • Bathing without moisturizing
  • Scarred or have hypoesthetic skin

Treating Asteatotic Eczema

Treating Asteatotic Eczema

Though asteatotic eczema can be very uncomfortable and looks very serious, it generally responds well to treatment and clears up quickly. The best ways to treat asteatotic eczema are:

  • Avoiding environmental factors that cause dry skin, like hot baths and direct heat or extreme cold.
  • Avoid products with irritating ingredients and fragrances like soaps, detergents, or other household items.
  • Cleanse the skin with a gentle cleanser for eczema or an eczema shampoo.
  • Applying an over-the-counter topical steroid cream, such as a hydrocortisone cream.
  • Moisturize the skin with an eczema cream at least twice daily.
  • Avoid taking long hot water baths.
  • Apply moisturizer or eczema cream immediately after taking a bath when the skin is a little damp.
  • Don’t scratch the skin. It can lead to infection.
  • Use a humidifier in winter to keep the dry, cold air in your house or room moist.
  • Keep your body hydrated by drinking enough fluids.
  • In severe cases, the doctor may prescribe the use of calcineurin inhibitors, corticosteroids, and antihistamines..

The best way to treat asteatotic eczema is to make sure the skin stays moisturized, as dry skin can worsen the condition. Use a cream, lotion, or emollient with a high oil content at least twice a day, but especially after bathing or showering. 

An eczema cream, like Dr. Eddie’s Happy Cappy Moisturizing Cream, can offer the necessary hydration without irritating the skin. It contains natural ingredients like licorice root extract, and glycerin that help soothe redness, itching, and dryness found in eczema prone skin. 

It is free from harsh chemicals like fragrances, paraben, sulfate, and dye. It helps restore the skin’s natural barrier and keeps it hydrated all day long. For best results, use it with Happy Cappy Daily Shampoo & Body Wash. It is a non-soap, hypoallergenic cleanser that has a low pH level, helps maintain the skin’s normal pH level, and soothes itching, inflammation, and irritation associated with eczema.

When To Consult A Doctor?

If your condition does not get better after taking proper care of the skin or the condition gets worse, it is best to consult a doctor or a dermatologist. The asteatotic eczema causes cracks on the skin that attract bacteria and viruses, leading to different skin infections.

If you notice any of the following, immediately consult a doctor:

  • Fever
  • Open sores
  • Skin oozing pus
  • Any sign of infection.


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Dr. Eddie Valenzuela is an award winning pediatrician and the founder and CEO of Pediatric Solutions, LLC.

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What are the other names for asteatotic dermatitis?

Some other common names of asteatotic dermatitis are eczema craquelure or xerotic eczema.

Some other common names of asteatotic dermatitis are eczema craquelé or xerotic eczema.

A non-greasy, fast-absorbing, fragrance-free, paraben-free, and sulfate-free lotion, such as Happy Cappy Moisturizing Eczema Cream, is best.

Where does asteatotic eczema appear?

It usually appears on the shins, tummy, arms, back, and thighs. The skin may become dry, cracked, and scaly.

How to prevent asteatotic eczema?

To prevent frequent flare-ups of eczema, it is best to keep the skin clean and moisturized. Avoid taking long hot baths. Moisturize your skin at least twice a day with an eczema cream.

Can asteatotic eczema be cured permanently?

Asteatotic eczema is a chronic skin condition. This means it may come and go from time to time as flare-ups. So, it means it can not be permanently cured, but it can be easily managed with the help of Happy Cappy Two-Step Eczema Skincare Routine.

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