Why Do I Have Eczema on My Stomach?

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Eczema on the stomach can be aggravating. The common, itchy skin condition may be irritated by some fabrics, especially on waistbands. Sweat can trigger itching as well.

Eczema causes discolored, sore, inflamed patches of skin that may eventually get crusty and scaly. It can appear anywhere on the body.

In this article, you’ll learn what causes the most common types of eczema on the stomach, the symptoms and treatments, and how to prevent it.

Man hand scratching an itch on red mark sensitive skin as food or pest allergy symptoms - stock photo

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Causes of Eczema on Stomach

Eczema isn’t contagious, and you cannot spread it to other people or catch it from them. Why some people develop eczema while others do not isn’t fully understood.

However, some types of eczema are believed to have a genetic component and the condition tends to run in families.

The most common types of eczema are atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic (allergic) dermatitis is an autoimmune disease. When you have an autoimmune condition, your body's immune system mistakes healthy cells for harmful ones and attacks them.

When you have eczema, your immune system reacts to your skin cells, causing redness and itching. This is more common in people who have other allergies such as hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and asthma (condition that causes inflammation of the airways).

Triggers vary from person to person, but common ones include:

It’s important to pay attention to which triggers cause eczema flares on your stomach so you can avoid them. Atopic dermatitis is difficult to treat, so avoidance is key to managing the condition.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis can be triggered by either an allergic reaction (allergic contact dermatitis) or an irritant (irritant contact dermatitis). Unlike atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis requires direct contact with an irritant in order to cause eczema.

Allergic contact dermatitis involves a delayed reaction. Typically, the eczema rash shows up a day or two after exposure. Common triggers include:

Irritant contact dermatitis doesn’t involve an allergic reaction at all. It’s simply a reaction to skin damage caused by substances such as: 

Symptoms generally appear within minutes of contact with the problem substance. Despite it being unrelated to an allergic reaction, irritant contact dermatitis is common in people with atopic dermatitis.

Symptoms of Eczema on the Stomach

Common eczema symptoms include:

  • Itching
  • Dry skin
  • Inflammation
  • Red rash
  • Leathery or scaly skin
  • Oozing clear liquid
  • Sores that crust over

Eczema looks different on different skin tones. In people with light skin, the rash appears pink or red and the scales are white or silvery. On people with dark skin, it may appear purplish or ashy gray with silver scales or be darker than the skin and have grayish scales.

Treatment

The treatment for eczema on the stomach depends on the underlying cause. The best way to manage eczema is to prevent flares. This means avoiding the substances that trigger it. Because the stomach is generally covered by clothing, it may be easier to avoid triggers than for, say, eczema on the hands or face.

Treatment options for atopic dermatitis include:

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic condition, meaning it doesn’t completely go away. However, proper treatment and management can make your flares less frequent and less severe.

Treatment options for contact dermatitis may include:

Prevention

While it may not be possible to prevent eczema on the stomach, there are steps that you can take to prevent flares. Lifestyle factors like eating a healthy diet, exercising, managing stress, and getting adequate sleep can reduce the incidence of eczema flares.

Gently cleansing your skin each day can help to reduce eczema flares. Try to take a short, warm bath or shower each day. Hot water can dry out the skin and lead to irritation. Avoid scrubbing your skin and gently pat it dry after your shower. Once your skin is dry, use a gentle moisturizer.

Your stomach likely comes into frequent contact with your clothing. To avoid irritation, don't wear clothing that is too tight or restrictive. Opt for soft, breathable fabrics like cotton. Bamboo or silk are also eczema-friendly fabrics. Avoid any synthetic fabrics like nylon or polyester that could lead to sweating.

When washing your clothes, choose a gentle laundry detergent that is free of fragrances and dyes. Consider double-rinsing your clothes before drying them.

Summary

Eczema on the stomach can cause symptoms that can affect your quality of life. There are different types of eczema that can occur on the stomach.

Atopic dermatitis is related to allergies and immune-system dysfunction. Contact dermatitis may be from a different type of allergic reaction or direct contact with substances that bother your skin.

Treatment involves trigger avoidance, steroid creams or medications, and sometimes systemic (body-wide) drugs (especially for atopic dermatitis).

A Word From Verywell

Eczema on the stomach is uncomfortable and can even be painful. It can also be embarrassing when people see it. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to treat eczema on the stomach.

If you have an itchy rash on your belly (or anywhere), avoid triggers and talk to your healthcare provider. Once you have a diagnosis, you can focus on getting treated and feeling better.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What causes eczema on the stomach?

    In many cases, the cause of eczema is unknown. Some types are believed to have a genetic component. Atopic and contact dermatitis both involve exposure to allergens or irritants.

  • How do you get rid of eczema on your stomach?

    You can treat eczema on your stomach with topical steroid creams, oral steroid medications, trigger avoidance, proper cleansing and moisturizing, and choosing soft clothing.

  • Will eczema go away on its own?

    Eczema doesn’t typically go away on its own. The condition is usually chronic, but sometimes children will outgrow it. Symptoms rarely go away without treatment.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Eczema Society. Clothing and eczema.

  2. National Eczema Association. What is eczema?

  3. American Academy of Family Physicians. Eczema and atopic dermatitis.

  4. National Eczema Association. Atopic dermatitis.

  5. National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Contact dermatitis.

  6. National Eczema Association. Eczema and atopic dermatitis in skin of color: what you need to know.

  7. National Eczema Association. Eczema treatment.

Additional Reading

By Adrienne Dellwo
Adrienne Dellwo is an experienced journalist who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and has written extensively on the topic.