Eczema on the ankles: symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options

Eczema is an itchy skin condition that results in red and dry patches. It is most common on the hands, arms, feet, legs and face. Symptoms can also occur on the chest, neck, scalp and back. In fact, it can develop anywhere on the skin.

On the legs, eczema can be localized on the ankles. This can be contributed to by a number of factors. This article is detailed on Eczema on the ankles: symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options.

Causes, symptoms and types of eczema on the ankles

There are several types that can cause eczema on the ankles. In all of them, itchy, red, scaly and sometimes blistered skin patches will appear. They include:

Stasis eczema

Also known as varicose eczema, it is the type that affects people with varicose veins. Varicose veins is a condition caused by malfunctioning blood veins on lower legs. It is more common in elderly people and obese individuals. The initial symptoms occur on the ankles. They include:

  • Itchy, dry and irritated skin
  • Redness, pain and swelling
  • Weeping crusts
  • Pain in lower legs after standing or walking for long

Dyshidrotic eczema

This is what causes eczema blisters on hands and feet. It is also referred to as pompholyx or dyshidrosis. Although the blisters will mostly form on the sole of the feet, they can spread to the ankles. Dyshidrotic eczema is characterized by an intense itch and blisters.


Excess use of soap is thought to be the main cause of this eczema type. Most cases are seen in elderly individuals and mostly on the legs. Soap leads to skin dryness and in turn encourages eczema. Common symptoms include intensely itchy scaling patterns on the legs. Splitting is also likely to occur.

Atopic eczema

This is the most common type of all eczema types. It is not known what causes it. There are reasons to associate it with allergies like asthma and hay fever. Children born to family lines with this condition show a tendency of developing it more often.

Contact eczema

  • Irritant contact eczema – sensitive skins are easily irritated after contact with substances such as nickel, detergents, soaps or even urine in babies. This can result in dry skin and other eczema symptoms.
  • Allergic contact eczema – this type affects people with allergies to substances such as eggs and some medications. After contact, eczema symptoms may occur on any part of the body, including ankles.

Diagnosis for eczema on the ankles

Diagnosis at home can be done by comparing with online pictures and identifying the symptoms. In case of babies, comparison with eczema on face pictures will be particularly important. This is because most cases of eczema in babies are reported on cheeks and scalp.

A dermatologist may not require specialized methods to identify eczema on the ankles. Physical examination may be enough. All the same, tests to check heart functions or blood flow may be necessary for varicose eczema.  Allergy tests may also be necessary for people with atopic or allergic contact eczema.

Treatment for eczema on the ankles

Moisturizing creams, emollients and ointments form a very important part of eczema on the ankles treatment. This is especially for asteatotic, atopic and dyshidrotic eczema. They address the problem of dry skin effectively enough.

Topical or prescription steroid containing medications are likely to be prescribed. They ease eczema itch instantly. Steroids are also anti-inflammatory medications and will reduce skin thickening.

Depending on the severity, your doctor may go for phototherapy or immune modulators. Phototherapy is effective for chronic eczema while immune modulators are better options for frequently recurring eczema flares.

Since eczema on the ankles is prone to infections, antifungal or antibiotics may be prescribed. They however are only necessary in advent of eczema infection. It is for this reason that patients are always advised to check with their doctors at the first sight of eczema symptoms.

Patients are encouraged to keep the affected areas from moist and warm conditions. Similarly, prolonged exposure to sunlight is discouraged. This is because sun heat intensifies eczema itch. Scratching affected regions irritates the skin even more.

How to treat eczema on the ankles at home

Self-care measures are very important when it comes to eczema on the ankles treatment. The first measure involves keeping the ankles and the skin in general well moisturized. Always after your bath, remember to apply a fragrance-free moisturizer.

Another self-care treatment approach involves learning the probable triggers and avoiding them. For example, excess use or use of harsh soaps is a likely eczema trigger. You can always ask your doctor for help on the best creams or soaps for eczema to use. Helpful tips can also be found online.

Home remedies are yet another treatment approach you can consider for eczema on the ankles. For example, soaking your feet in lukewarm water prepared with colloidal oatmeal will greatly prevent dry skin from occurring. Dressing the affected ankles with aloe Vera or chamomile tea will not only keep from infection but also encourage healing. Another popular choice for treatment at home involves use of apple cider vinegar eczema baths.

Recently, wet wraps have gained popularity in treatment for eczema inside elbow, on knees and on ankles.

Wet wraps are very easy to use and in fact very effective. Basically, a steroid-based or moisturizing cream is applied on the affected areas. The cream is then covered with a wet bandage, which is further covered with a dry bandage. First time applications can be done in a clinic, just to have the procedure done correctly.