Weeping Eczema: Types, Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Eczema is a skin condition characterized by dry, itchy, and red skin that often forms crusty patches. However, in some cases, a patch of eczema may begin leaking a clear fluid, a condition called weeping.

This does not occur in all cases of eczema, so let’s take a closer look at why weeping eczema occurs, which types of eczema it is most common in, and what you can do to treat and prevent it.

Table of Contents

What is Weeping Eczema?

Weeping eczema is a complication of eczema (not a specific type of eczema) that results when the skin oozes clear or straw-colored fluid. Most cases of weeping eczema result from an infection.

Eczema rashes can cause open wounds or blisters, and if a bacteria or virus enters the open wound or rash, it can become infected. Since eczema causes the skin to itch, there is an increased risk of breaking the skin when scratching, allowing microorganisms to enter.

Types of Weeping Eczema

There are different types of weeping eczema, or cases of eczema where blisters leak fluid.

Nummular Eczema

Nummular eczema manifests as itchy, circular patches on the skin that may ooze. The coin-shaped patches typically appear on the arms, legs, torso, and hands. For those with a light complexion, they appear red, while they appear brown or pale on those with darker complexions.

This type of eczema typically results from dry or sensitive skin or an insect bite, scrape, or chemical burn.

Nummular eczema is sometimes mistaken for other diseases affecting the skin, including psoriasis, ringworm, or fungal infection.

Dyshidrotic Eczema

Dyshidrotic eczema causes tiny blisters to develop on the fingers, palms, and sometimes the soles of the feet. The blisters are generally very itchy, which can make them tempting to scratch.

Seasonal allergies commonly bring on this type of eczema, and while it can occur in individuals of any age, it is more common in those under the age of 40.

The blisters that form because of dyshidrotic eczema often take 2-3 weeks to dry out and flake off. However, it’s common to develop new blisters before the old ones heal.

Infected Eczema

Weeping eczema can also occur when general eczema becomes infected from excessive scratching. Signs of infection include colored pus (e.g., yellow, brown, green, or any color other than clear) weeping from the skin.

Symptoms of Weeping Eczema

The biggest symptom of weeping eczema are tiny blisters that may leak straw-colored or clear fluid. When these blisters leak fluid, it can wet the skin and, if left to dry, create a dry, crusty layer. 

These blisters are considered to “weep” this fluid, which is where the name of the condition comes from.

Other symptoms of weeping eczema include:

  • open sores
  • intense itching
  • burning
  • white or yellow pustules

In cases of more severe infections, the following symptoms may be present:

  • fatigue
  • chills or fever
  • aches
  • swollen lymph nodes in the armpit, neck, or groin

Causes of Weeping Eczema

Weeping eczema results from inflammation in the skin. The inflammation causes the skin blood vessels to dilate, which causes them to leak serum into the skin tissue. This results in mild swelling and oozing of the serum onto the surface of the skin. 

Most cases of weeping eczema occur when microbes enter broken skin, causing an infection.

The microbes that most often cause weeping eczema include:

  • candida albicans
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Herpes simplex virus

Since eczema causes itching, it also makes it more likely for someone to scratch their skin and create open wounds, allowing an access point for microbes.

As for eczema itself, many factors can cause it to develop, including a family or personal history of allergies, exposure to irritating environmental factors, and stress. 

How Is Weeping Eczema Diagnosed?

Diagnosing weeping eczema often begins with a physical exam to examine the affected skin. In cases of infection, your doctor may swab the area so that they can determine what is causing the infection, which allows them to choose the correct treatment option.

How To Treat Weeping Eczema?

Eczema itself has no cure, with those who have eczema often experiencing flare-ups throughout their life. However, eczema can be controlled with allergy medications, medicated shampoos, and topical treatments to reduce inflammation and itching.

These treatments help to manage eczema, which prevents the risk of weeping eczema. However, if there is an infection, treatment for weeping eczema depends on the type of pathogen causing the infection.

In cases of bacterial infection, antibiotics are the standard treatment, which can be administered as an ointment, cream, syrup, or tablet. In some cases, your doctor may administer a topical steroid along with the antibiotic.

As for viral infections, they can typically be treated with antiviral tablets. In severe infections, these medications may need to be administered intravenously in a hospital.

Finally, fungal infections are treated with antifungal ointments or creams. Like antibiotics, antifungal treatments are often combined with topical steroids.

No matter what treatment you are prescribed, it is essential to follow your doctor’s instructions and continue taking the medicine until you are told to stop.

Home Remedies for Weeping Eczema

In addition to medical interventions, there are also some home remedies you can complete to manage your weeping eczema symptoms. Most of these are aimed at treating and managing eczema, which then prevents weeping eczema from occurring.

Some home remedies to prevent eczema flare-ups include:

  • applying a clean, damp cloth to the affected skin
  • taking a bath with baking soda or colloidal oatmeal
  • keeping fingernails cut short
  • moisturizing your skin regularly with sensitive products
  • wearing loose cotton clothing
  • avoiding irritating detergents and cleaning products

In addition to the above remedies, studies have shown that stress may cause eczema symptoms to worsen. By adopting specific techniques, such as meditation, exercise, or yoga, you may be able to keep eczema from flaring up.

Some people also report improvement in their eczema when they change their diet, specifically when they avoid trigger foods.

Possible Complications

In most cases of weeping eczema, symptoms will clear up within 2 weeks if treated properly. In some severe cases, scarring may develop. 

In cases where the weeping eczema is due to the herpes simplex virus, a secondary infection called eczema herpeticum may develop. If left untreated, this infection can have severe complications, including blindness, scarring, or potentially death.

When To See a Doctor?

If your skin is weeping or you suspect an infection, it is crucial to see a doctor right away. This is because the sooner you see a doctor, the sooner you receive treatment and the sooner your weeping eczema clears up.

Seeing a doctor is especially important in infected cases of weeping eczema because infections can spread quickly, so treatment is needed to halt and treat the infection.

If you cannot get in to see your doctor, DrHouse can connect you with an online doctor in just 15 minutes who can examine your affected skin and discuss treatment options.

FAQs

Is it normal for eczema to ooze?

Eczema on its own is characterized by dry, red, and flaky patches of skin, and it does not generally ooze liquid. However, small blisters may sometimes form on the eczema-affected skin, which may then ooze liquid, also called weeping. This oozing liquid often signifies that the skin has become infected and, as such, is not a typical sign of eczema. If you notice that your eczema is oozing, it is important to see a doctor to discuss treatment options.

What happens if you leave weeping eczema untreated?

Infections can quickly spread, which means that untreated weeping eczema can become a serious infection, such as a fungal infection, staph infection, or herpes. Because of this, it is recommended not to ignore cases of weeping eczema and instead see a doctor in any case where your eczema is weeping to receive the proper treatment.

What does weeping eczema look like?

Weeping eczema typically looks like red or purplish blisters that ooze or weep a clear or yellow fluid. This fluid leaking from the blisters may be a sign of infection in the skin.

Key Takeaways

Eczema is a skin condition characterized by red, dry, and flaky patches of skin. There is no cure for eczema; instead, those affected by eczema find that it comes and goes in periods called flare-ups. One problem with eczema is that it can make the skin itchy, which increases the risk of someone opening the skin through scratching, inviting the possibility of infection.

Weeping eczema occurs when patches of eczema-affected skin begin oozing (weeping) liquid. This is often a sign of infection and, as such, requires a timely doctor’s visit to receive treatment. Treatment varies based on if the infection is bacterial, fungal, or viral in nature.

The greatest tool against weeping eczema is taking at-home steps to manage eczema and prevent flare-ups. In cases where your eczema is weeping, or you suspect an infection, it is crucial to see a doctor to prevent the infection from spreading.

Sources:

Content on the DrHouse website is written by our medical content team and reviewed by qualified MDs, PhDs, NPs, and PharmDs. We follow strict content creation guidelines to ensure accurate medical information. However, this content is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For more information read our medical disclaimer.

Always consult with your physician or other qualified health providers about medical concerns. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it based on what you read on this website.

If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

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