Self-Care Tips for Managing Atopic Dermatitis Symptoms

Medically Reviewed By Amanda Caldwell, MSN, APRN-C
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Atopic dermatitis, also called eczema, refers to chronic skin irritation, dryness, and inflammation. Various self-care tips, from caring for your skin to avoiding products that may cause further irritation, can help you manage symptoms. In some cases, your doctor may recommend medical treatments for atopic dermatitis. Your treatment plan may include a combination of over-the-counter and prescription medications, as well as home remedies.

Read on to find out more about self-care tips for atopic dermatitis. This article also looks at other atopic dermatitis treatments, when to contact a doctor, and more.

Apply moisturizer after bathing

A person is applying moisturizer after showering.
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It is important to keep your skin hydrated. Applying a moisturizer or emollient after bathing can help keep your skin hydrated while also providing a barrier between your skin and the environment.

Learn about emollients.

Wash in lukewarm water

Bathing or showering in lukewarm water may be kinder to your skin than washing in hot water.

Taking shorter baths or showers may also help. The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends limiting bathing to 5 to 10 minutes when possible.

Always gently pat your skin dry after washing. Rubbing your skin can worsen symptoms.

Learn more about bathing with eczema.

Use fragrance-free products

Fragranced or perfumed products can cause a flare-up of symptoms. Try to use skin care and beauty products that are fragrance-free to reduce skin irritation.

It is important to note that products labeled as “unscented” may still contain ingredients with fragrances that have been masked.

Learn about choosing skin care products if you have eczema.

Wear loose-fitting clothing

Tight-fitting clothing can rub against your skin and cause further irritation. Wearing loose-fitting clothing made from 100% cotton can help to reduce this risk while allowing air to circulate and keep your skin feeling cooler.

Learn about choosing the right clothes for sensitive skin.

Apply a wet wrap

Applying a wet wrap may help ease symptoms of atopic dermatitis. According to the National Eczema Association, wet wrap therapy helps reduce symptoms in over 70% of children with atopic dermatitis.

Wet wrap therapy involves moistening a clean dressing in warm water. Once you have applied the wrap to the affected area of skin, you can cover the wet wrap with a dry wrap.

Leaving the wraps on for several hours or overnight may help relieve your symptoms.

Take a diluted bleach bath

Taking a bath in a diluted bleach solution may help relieve symptoms of atopic dermatitis. This is because bleach has antibacterial properties that may reduce bacteria and inflammation on the skin.

It is important to only take a diluted bleach if your doctor has advised you to do so. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases recommends a diluted bleach bath twice per week. However, it is important to discuss this with your doctor before proceeding to make sure this is the right treatment for you.

Avoid foods that trigger symptoms

Certain foods may trigger an atopic dermatitis flare-up or make your symptoms worse, particularly if you have a food allergy. Keeping a food diary can help you to identify these foods so you can limit your intake.

Your doctor may refer you to a dietitian, who will be able to help you to create an eating plan that may help to reduce symptoms of atopic dermatitis.

According to a 2017 report, foods that may contribute to symptoms include:

  • white flour products
  • gluten
  • nightshades

The same report noted that people saw an improvement in symptoms when they added vegetables, fish oil, and fruits to their diet.

Learn more about foods to avoid if you have eczema.

Are there any medical treatments for atopic dermatitis?

Alongside home remedies, your doctor may recommend medical treatments to help you to manage symptoms of atopic dermatitis.

Treatments they may recommend include:

  • topical corticosteroids to decrease inflammation
  • topical calcineurin inhibitors to decrease inflammation and prevent flare-ups
  • topical phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors if inflammation does not respond to other treatments
  • JAK inhibitors to reduce the immune response that may be causing the symptoms
  • biologic injection to block certain immune system functions that may be causing the symptoms

Your doctor will be able to advise you on which treatments they recommend and answer any questions you may have.

Learn more about treatments for atopic dermatitis.

How do doctors diagnose atopic dermatitis?

Your doctor or dermatologist may be able to diagnose atopic dermatitis by performing a physical examination, taking a full medical history, and asking you questions about your symptoms.

However, they may decide to order a skin biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. A skin biopsy involves removing a small sample of the affected skin for laboratory analysis.

When should I see a doctor?

Contact your doctor as soon as you have concerns about atopic dermatitis. Your doctor will be able to confirm the diagnosis and help you to identify any triggers that may be making your symptoms worse.

Your doctor may recommend medical treatments and advise on home remedies and self-care tips that can help you relieve symptoms of atopic dermatitis.

Frequently asked questions

Here are some more frequently asked questions about atopic dermatitis.

Can I cure eczema permanently?

Although some children may outgrow eczema, it is not otherwise possible to cure the condition. However, home remedies and medical treatments can help you manage symptoms and reduce flare-ups.

What is the best eczema treatment?

There is no individual best treatment for eczema. Instead, you can take various steps to manage symptoms, such as keeping your skin hydrated, avoiding known triggers, and taking medication prescribed by your doctor.

What clears up atopic dermatitis?

Avoiding triggers can help to clear up atopic dermatitis. Common triggers include irritants such as fragranced products, allergens such as pet hair, certain foods, and materials such as wool. Looking after your skin and taking medication at your doctor’s advice can further help clear up an atopic dermatitis flare.

How can I treat dermatitis myself?

It may be possible to treat atopic dermatitis with home remedies and self-care tips. This includes moisturizing, gently drying skin, and avoiding triggers. However, treatment for atopic dermatitis typically combines home care with medical treatments. Your doctor will be able to advise on what medical treatments they recommend.


It is possible to manage symptoms of atopic dermatitis with self-care tips and home remedies. Applying moisturizers, bathing in lukewarm water, and wearing loose clothing can help ease dry, itchy skin.

Avoiding triggers, such as fragranced products and certain foods, can help to reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups.

Contact your doctor if you have concerns about atopic dermatitis. They will be able to advise you on medical treatments that may help you to manage your symptoms alongside home remedies.

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Medical Reviewer: Amanda Caldwell, MSN, APRN-C
Last Review Date: 2023 Mar 15
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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