8 Don'ts for Stubborn Eczema
- Don’t give in to eczema.Eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis) can be painful, irritating and downright stubborn. You may feel like you’ve tried everything and still have that irritating rash or annoying itch. But even the most stubborn eczema can be tamed with the right treatment and a few tips to soothe the skin.
- 1. Don’t tolerate triggers.Everyone with moderate to severe eczema has their own set of triggers, but some of the most common culprits include perfumes and soaps that can be drying, as well as scratchy clothing and bedding. Certain allergens, such as dust mites or animal dander, can also cause a rash or make it worse. Keep a log of what seems to irritate your skin so you can try different products. Choose a moisturizer and sunscreen for sensitive skin, and experiment with different soaps and clothing fabrics to find the ones that won’t irritate your skin.
- 2. Don’t scratch.It can be hard not to scratch when your skin is itchy, but when you have eczema, scratching can make matters worse. It could cause bleeding, which can lead to infection or scars, and it can also create leathery patches of skin. When you get the itch, try rubbing your skin with your fingers instead. Be sure to keep your nails trimmed and filed if you are tempted to scratch. You may also want to try covering the affected area with a protective dressing to avoid scratching.
- 3. Don’t overdo the skin cream.Many people with severe eczema find a skin cream helps lock in moisture. But if you’ve been using the same product for some time, it may start to irritate your skin, and sometimes can become less effective. If you find this happening with your everyday cream or moisturizer, talk to your doctor about alternative products you can try for eczema relief. Sometimes a mix of products is the best solution.
- 4. Don’t use alternative treatments before talking to your doctor.Some people may find alternative and herbal remedies helpful in treating their eczema, but the jury is still out on whether these remedies are effective. If you're thinking about using a complementary therapy, talk to your doctor about whether or not it’s safe to use. Be sure to continue your other eczema treatments as prescribed by your doctor.
- 5. Don’t bathe in hot water.When you have difficult-to-treat eczema, moisture is your friend. Water that’s too hot can dry out the skin and make your symptoms worse. Be sure to take showers or baths in warm (not hot) water. Pat skin dry with a soft towel and use a moisturizer recommended by your doctor while your skin is still damp.
- 6. Don’t sunbathe.Natural sunlight can be helpful for eczema, but too much sun (as well as sweating) can irritate the skin and make your already severe eczema worse.
- 7. Don’t stress.Stress can also cause a person’s eczema to flare up or get worse, so be sure to work in time for deep breathing, meditation or just a little quiet time to relax and decompress each day.
- 8. Don’t worry at bedtime.Bedtime can be stressful for many people with stubborn eczema. When the body and mind slow down, you may be more aware of the itch than ever. Try a relaxing activity before bed, like reading or listening to your favorite music, to help you forget about scratching. You may also want to create a little “spa time” with a relaxing, warm (not hot) bath and a soothing skin treatment or moisturizer to help you ease into a good night’s sleep.