There are several subtypes of eczema (dermatitis), each categorized by its symptoms. Eczema with sores that weep may be known as weepy or wet eczema, but those are not types of eczema. Rather, weeping patches are one of the more severe symptoms (or signs) of eczema. Eczema that weeps involves blisters that ooze or sores that leak clear fluid or pus. These weeping wounds may be a sign of extreme inflammation or that a person’s eczema has become infected. (In most cases the cause of the infection is the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, or “staph”).
It can be difficult to deal with infected, oozing, scaly patches of skin, especially on top of itchiness and dryness. Luckily, there are several ways you can manage eczema that weeps — both at home and with your health care provider.
Out of the seven different types of eczema, three are particularly known to cause blisters and sores that can become so irritated they start to weep. Atopic dermatitis (AD), nummular (or discoid) dermatitis, and dyshidrotic dermatitis are all associated with blistering. Atopic dermatitis is the most common — and it is the hardest to treat.
Atopic dermatitis affects millions of people in the United States alone and is the most common type of eczema. When people with this chronic condition have a flare-up, their skin becomes itchy and red in different areas. AD is caused by a number of factors related to an overactive immune system and a lack of certain proteins in a person’s skin barrier. This results in reduction of the skin’s ability to retain moisture and protect you from irritants, allergens, and bacteria.
Combine the blisters and sores caused by AD with the inability to protect your skin from bacteria, and infected, weeping sores are not uncommon.
Nummular dermatitis, also referred to as discoid eczema, is a relatively common type of eczema, especially in the winter months. Discoid eczema gets its name from its appearance — the condition causes round, coin-shaped lesions.
The lesions start off with a bumpy surface and fuzzy edges, and within a few days, develop into blisters. Those blisters then start to ooze or weep. Such lesions typically appear on your lower legs, abdomen, and arms and can occasionally affect your hands and fingers.
Another common type of eczema is dyshidrotic eczema, which also goes by the names pompholyx, foot-and-hand eczema, palmoplantar eczema, and vesicular eczema. It appears only on your hands and feet. This type of eczema is more common in women, and it may occur only once during a flare-up or it may become a chronic condition.
Dyshidrotic eczema flare-ups usually start off with a rash and painful blisters on the sides of your fingers, though itching and burning can occasionally be your first symptoms. When blisters finally heal, they leave behind red, dry skin that often peels and can become infected.
Eczema that weeps can be very painful and it can significantly impact your life. Many members of MyEczemaTeam have dealt with painful blisters and oozing, wet patches. For some, the symptoms impact more than their physical well-being.
“I’m having a horrible day,” wrote one member. “I’m so emotional. A grown man crying, hiding. I don’t want anybody to see the blisters all over my hands.”
Another explained, “I get tiny blisters all over my hands and the bottoms of my feet. It’s really painful and very embarrassing.”
Other members describe their weeping blisters as painful. “I have blisters on my feet,” one described. “When the blisters pop, they make sores and spread. It’s itchy and painful.”
Another shared that they couldn’t sleep for hours due to their weeping scalp. “It is oozing clear liquid, but I can’t stop scratching.”
Some find that the symptom lasts for a long time: “My ears are oozing and crusty, and it’s getting in my hair. I have never had a breakout so bad. It’s literally been two months now. I feel so hopeless,” wrote one member.
If you, like these members, feel that you can’t manage your eczema symptoms — or that they’re significantly impacting your emotional well-being and quality of life — talk to a dermatology specialist for helpful treatments and strategies.
Although eczema is common, it can be very challenging to live with — especially when you deal with painful side effects like weeping sores. The good news is that this symptom (and many others eczema provokes) can be treated. Even if you’ve been diagnosed with eczema, it may be possible to prevent weeping from occurring.
When dealing with a chronic condition, knowing what triggers your flare-ups can help to manage your symptoms. For many types of eczema, these basic guidelines will help you keep flare-ups in general at bay and prevent your skin from blistering and weeping, too.
Try these suggestions:
Many different medications and products — such as emollients, topical steroids, steroid tablets, antihistamines, immunosuppressants, and topical calcineurin inhibitors — can be used to treat the side effects of eczema, such as itching and flare-ups. Newer topical creams that do not contain steroids are crisaborole and a new class of medicine known as JAK inhibitors. Your dermatologist will work with you to determine what treatment or combination of treatments works best in managing your symptoms.
If your eczema flares as wet sores and those sores indicate a skin infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Topical antibiotic treatments, such as mupirocin, are typically used for small infected areas, while oral antibiotics, like cephalexin, can treat more extensive infections.
Alongside your doctor’s medical advice, the following may help give you relief from eczema that weeps.
Wet-wrap therapy has been found to be beneficial in treating oozing lesions, especially for those caused by the atopic dermatitis type of eczema. It can be used with or without a topical steroid (corticosteroid). For a wet-wrap, apply the medication your doctor suggested — or none if that was specified — to affected areas. Next, wrap those in a layer of cotton gauze or bandages dampened with clean, lukewarm water. Last, cover the wet layer with dry bandages or cotton clothing. The purpose of this technique is to increase your skin’s moisture, improve its absorption of topical medications, and provide it with a physical barrier to any scratching you may attempt.
Dissolving aluminum acetate (like Domeboro) in water to moisten your wet wrap or for a soak is another idea. This astringent may help dry out the oozing and weeping caused by eczema or contact dermatitis.
Another at-home solution was recommended by a member of MyEczemaTeam. When one member asked other members for oozing eczema advice, they were told that applying Vitamin E oil to affected areas of skin several times a week might prove helpful. Another user responded and confirmed that this approach worked for them.
If you have severe weeping eczema — or if you believe your eczema lesions could be infected — contact your doctor. You should also speak with your doctor before treating anything on your own or trying a new treatment regimen for the first time.
Eczema and its symptoms can be challenging to manage — but you’re not alone. On MyEczemaTeam, the social network for people with eczema and their loved ones, more than 40,000 members from around the world come together to swap stories, ask and answer questions, and meet others who understand life with eczema.
Have you experienced weeping eczema? How did you work to manage it? Share your experience and tips in the comments below or by posting on MyEczemaTeam.