What is asteatotic eczema? Understanding this winter itch type

Extremely dry skin on arm

Asteatotic eczema, also known as eczema craquelé or xerotic eczema, is a form of dermatitis that primarily affects older adults who live in dry climates or experience prolonged exposure to water—factors that strip the skin of its natural oils. Let’s delve into understanding this condition and how essential oils can provide relief.

What is asteatotic eczema?

Asteatotic eczema manifests as dry, itchy, and cracked skin, predominantly occurring on the lower legs, arms, and trunk. Due to its cracked, parched appearance, it is often referred to as “craquelé” which translates to “cracked.” As we age, our skin loses its ability to retain moisture, making the elderly a primary group at risk for developing this condition.

Common symptoms include irregular, itching, and painful fissures, dry skin patches, rough or scaly skin, and redness. If left untreated, these fissures can bleed or become infected, leading to further complications. Most cases observed are during winter due to dry and cold air both indoors and outside, exacerbating skin dryness. However, it can occur in any season with elements that can lead to skin dehydration.

See related: How to treat eczema flare-ups symptoms

Causes & Triggers

Man shoveling snow

While the exact cause of asteatotic eczema is unclear, its correlation with dry skin is evident. “Asteatotic” essentially refers to a lack of sebum— the oil that keeps the skin’s moisture and protection. Usage of harsh soaps, reduced water intake, overexposure to water, use of certain medications, living in dry environments, and itchy clothing can all strip away natural oils and moisture.

Additionally, conditions such as hypothyroidism and certain nutritional deficiencies can lead to drier skin, indirectly fostering asteatotic eczema.


Extremely dry, flaky skin

The first identifiable symptom is persistently dry skin that may start itching. As the condition progresses, the skin begins to exhibit red cracks, resembling cracked porcelain. These painful fissures can sometimes bleed, and if left untreated, may become susceptible to infection.


A tabletop humidifier

Asteatotic eczema symptoms are treatable and manageable. However, it can come back if the causative factors persist. Here are the treatment methods you can use for your asteatotic eczema.

  1. Moisturize. Keeping your skin well-moisturized is the most critical facet of management. Apply emollients several times a day, especially after bathing.
  2. Avoid irritants. Harsh soaps, washing detergents, and fabric softeners should be avoided. Choose products for sensitive skin or fragrance-free.
  3. Humidify indoors. Maintaining indoor humidity can help prevent skin dryness. Consider using a humidifier during the colder, drier months.
  4. Diet and hydration. Drink plenty of fluids and maintain a balanced diet.

See related: Understanding dry vs dehydrated skin

Natural Oils and Extracts with Moisturizing Properties

Moisturizing the skin is paramount in asteatotic eczema, and utilizing natural oils can offer numerous benefits. Let’s talk about natural sources of moisturizing properties that may be beneficial for those affected.

Natural Oils, Butters, and Waxes

Sunflower seeds on a wooden table and a small bowl, sunflower oil in a corked flask, sunflower
  1. Sunflower oil. Rich in Vitamin E and linoleic acid, and acts as a natural emollient, trapping moisture within the skin. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help in soothing red, inflamed skin. CANhaveTODAY’s salves Waters Mist, Soothing Juggernaut, and Healing Legends offer the benefits of this oil.
  2. Beeswax. As a natural emollient, humectant, and occlusive, helps to seal in moisture and forms a protective barrier on the skin surface, preventing further damage or infection. The salves Soothing Juggernaut, Waters Mist, and Healing Legends boast beeswax as one of their ingredients.
  3. Jojoba seed oil. Its structure closely mirrors our skin’s natural sebum, allowing jojoba seed oil to be easily absorbed, thus deeply moisturizing and promoting the skin’s barrier repair function. CANhaveTODAY offers the potential of jojoba seed oil in the salves Waters Mist, Healing Legends, and Soothing Juggernaut.
  4. Soybean oil. Soybean oil, rich in vitamin E, K, and fatty acids, aids in skin hydration and can help soothe irritated skin. You will find this oil in all CANhaveTODAY salves. Soothing Juggernaut, Healing Legends, and Waters Mist may offer these benefits.
  5. Shea butter. Possessing anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and possible skin barrier repair properties, shea butter may help with asteatotic eczema symptoms. Try out CANhaveTODAY’s Sparkling Rain for

Extracts and essential oils

Various essential oils in small bottles
  1. Aloe vera extract. Known for its moisturizing and cooling properties, aloe vera extract can help alleviate itchiness, reduce inflammation, and vitalize the skin’s natural moisture barrier. You can reap the benefits of this extract using any CANhaveTODAY product!
  2. Tea tree oil. With its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, tea tree oil heals and soothes the skin while preventing any potential infection. All CANhaveTODAY salves, Waters Mist, Soothing Juggernaut, and Healing Legends, can also impart the benefits of tea tree oil to your skin.
  3. Lemongrass oil. This oil has antimicrobial properties and can moisturize the skin. Waters Mist salve by CANhaveTODAY contains lemongrass oil in its formulation, offering it many benefits.
  4. Frankincense oil. This oil has moisturizing effects along with anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce skin irritation and redness caused by eczema. Harness the potential of frankincense oil using CANhaveTODAY’s Soothing Juggernaut and Healing Legends Salves!
  5. Grapefruit oil. Rich in antioxidants and vitamins and with antioxidant properties, grapefruit oil can help the skin fight off free radicals, thereby reducing inflammation and promoting healing. Make the most of grapefruit oil using CANhaveTODAY’s Sparkling Rain moisturizer.

Keep the knowledge and explore your options

Front view of CANhaveTODAY's Healing Legends, Waters Mist, and Soothing Juggernaut side by side

Despite the discomfort, asteatotic eczema can be effectively managed with careful routine and medical assistance. You can take advantage of the benefits of these natural sources using CANhaveTODAY’s all-natural products—Sparkling Rain, Waters Mist, Healing Legends, and Soothing Juggernaut— in safe concentrations. A quick note: These products contain Sodium borate. The government of Canada does not recommend the use of products containing Sodium borate on open wounds, cuts, or abrasions. Remember, while each of these natural oils and extracts brings various potential benefits, each individual’s response may vary. Always conduct a small patch test to assess potential skin reactions before applying it to broader areas. Furthermore, these natural remedies should complement, not replace, medical treatments or advice provided by healthcare professionals.


What causes asteatotic eczema?

Asteatotic eczema typically results from skin dryness. Factors contributing to this condition include age (60+ years old), living in a dry climate, exposure to harsh soaps or detergents, long hot baths or showers, and certain medical conditions that cause skin dryness.

What are the symptoms of asteatotic eczema?

This condition manifests as severely dry skin, often with a cracked porcelain appearance. Additional symptoms can include itching, red cracks, potential bleeding from these cracks, and heightened sensitivity in affected areas.

What are the treatment options for asteatotic eczema?

Conservative management primarily involves around continuous moisturizing. Your healthcare provider might recommend certain emollients or creams. Topical steroids or other medications can be prescribed in more severe cases.

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