About asteatotic eczema

Asteatotic eczema (also known as ‘eczema craquelé’) is a type of eczema that is more common in older people. It usually affects the shins but sometimes affects other areas such as the thighs, arms, tummy and back. In asteatotic eczema the skin becomes very dry, rough and scaly, and sometimes resembles crazy paving or a dried-up riverbed.

How can it be prevented from developing?

If you live in dry, heated accommodation or are exposed to winter weather or excessive bathing or showering, you are more at risk of developing this type of eczema. To reduce the risk of developing asteatotic eczema, we recommend that you: 

  • Avoid sitting right next to a radiator or fire.
  • Don’t spend too long in the bath – 10-15 minutes is ideal. It’s best to wash in warm rather than hot water, as hot water will dry out the skin and cause itchiness.  
  • Avoid soap and vigorous towelling. Use plenty of emollient, both as a leave-on moisturiser and as a soap substitute, to keep the skin moisturised. 
  • Try to keep the air in the home moist. A bowl of water in each room should help.

How is it treated?

Emollients (medical moisturisers) are the main first-line treatment for eczema and are necessary to keep your skin moisturised. Emollients can be bought over the counter in pharmacies and some supermarkets, or supplied on prescription. There is a wide range of emollients, which vary in their levels of greasiness. The dryer the skin, the greasier an emollient is needed. Ointments are the greasiest type of emollient.

Topical steroids are the most common treatment for inflammation in eczema. They should be used according to the instructions of your GP.

For more information on asteatotic eczema, please see our Eczema in later life factsheet