7 Skincare Strategies With Eczema
- Itchy Skin ReliefAllergens, irritants, stress and dry skin—these are everyday triggers for people with eczema (also called atopic dermatitis) who suffer from itchy, flaky skin. And while eczema symptoms are different for everyone, with a proper skincare routine, they are manageable for most. If one treatment doesn’t work for you, don’t lose hope. With the help of your doctor, and some trial and error, you can find a skincare regimen that will bring you relief.
- 1. Bathe daily.Bathing often may seem like the worst thing you can do if you have eczema, since water can be drying to the skin. But if you follow a daily bath with a good moisturizer, it can be one of the best ways to seal in moisture, hydrate the skin and avoid irritation. Be sure to bathe or shower in warm water (not hot) and limit your time in the water to no more than 10 minutes.
- 2. Avoid harsh soaps.Choosing the right cleanser is especially important for people with eczema. Ask your doctor about a mild soap (without dyes or fragrances) that would be the least irritating. Try to avoid antibacterial cleansers, which often contain alcohol and other ingredients that are rough on the skin. Gently apply the soap with your hands (avoid scrubbing with a washcloth or loofah), and rinse the soap completely off your skin. During severe flare-ups, you may want to avoid soap and bathe with just warm water.
- 3. Moisturize often.The best way to keep your skin from getting dry and causing your eczema to flare is by moisturizing 2 to 3 times a day. It’s best to moisturize right after bathing, showering and hand washing while the skin is still damp. Gently pat skin dry with a towel and then apply a thick cream or moisturizer with a high-oil content, as well as any prescription treatments, such as an anti-itch cream, as directed by your doctor. Doing this right before bed is especially helpful for locking in moisture.
- 4. Choose a bath treatment.Depending on your eczema symptoms, you can calm the skin by adding bath oil, bleach, vinegar, salt, oatmeal or baking soda to your bath water. A mild bleach bath can help reduce infection-causing bacteria on the skin, and salt can ease stinging from a severe flare-up. Baking soda and oatmeal baths can help relieve itching. Talk to your doctor about which treatment may be most helpful for you.
- 5. Try not to scratch or rub.If you tend to scratch and rub to ease itchy skin, try covering the affected areas with a bandage or other material. Avoiding tight, rough or scratchy fabrics like wool can also help prevent itching. Try dressing in soft, breathable fabrics like cotton instead. You should also keep your nails trimmed and may want to wear gloves at night to keep from scratching.
- 6. Apply a wet dressing.A more intensive treatment for eczema that’s very effective is applying a topical corticosteroid and wrapping the area with a wet bandage. This often helps control symptoms within hours or days. Sometimes this must be done by a skilled nurse, but talk to your doctor if you would like to learn how to do it on your own.
- 7. Use a humidifier.Using a humidifier in your home, especially during winter months, can help insert moisture back into the air and your skin to prevent itching and flaking. You can use a portable home humidifier or one attached to your furnace. Be sure to clean your humidifier regularly to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi.