Eczema is a common but frustrating skin condition that can cause much more than irritation. Infections, cracking skin, and extreme discomfort are all possible symptoms of eczema. But don’t worry: it doesn’t have to be hard to keep your eczema in check and your skin protected.
If you have eczema, following your dermatologist’s instructions for your specific subtype of dermatitis is key. Practicing good skincare is the easiest way to keep your eczema under control. Follow these simple skincare best practices and you’ll be well on your way to preventing infection, cracking, and discomfort.
Dryness caused by eczema is the main cause of cracking – and cracking can cause infection. While it might sound obvious, water is your best bet for restoring or maintaining your skin’s moisture. Soaking in a tub of warm (not hot) water for 10-15 minutes daily is a safe and effective way to help moisturize your skin. A common treatment to prevent infection is the addition of a small amount of bleach to the bath water. Bleach is an antiseptic, and bacteria that can cause infection are no match for it when diluted in water. Of course, bleach is a chemical that can cause irritation if improperly handled or diluted, so it’s important to explore this option with your dermatologist.
Hot water dries out the skin. When water is cool but not cold, it does not cause inflammation that can draw moisture from the skin. Most soaps can cause your skin to dry out, so it’s important to know what you’re using when you clean your skin. Clean skin is obviously an important factor in preventing infection, but how you clean is important. While we might refer to other non-soap cleansers as soap, it’s probably best to avoid “soap” outright. Instead, use cleansing products that are dermatologist recommended or approved. These products contain things like colloidal oatmeal that work well to maintain your skin’s moisture.
There are many ways to help your skin stay hydrated without using over the counter solutions aimed at treating eczema. With eczema symptoms, sometimes simpler is better. Adding vinegar to the bath or applying it to your skin directly can protect your skin from infection. If you find your skin stings when bathing in just water or with vinegar, don’t worry. When skin is incredibly dry and already in discomfort, stinging is a common reaction to water. The water will still help, so try adding a cup of table salt to your bath and you should notice less irritation. Common household objects like baking soda (whether in a paste or added directly to your bath) can help control itching and lower the risk of infection.
Bathing should be a relaxing experience for you, and cleansers should be applied gently. Avoid scrubbing your skin with water, cleansers, or prescription products. Avoid irritating skin by using a soft sponge and avoid applying cleansers or scrubbing with any material other than your hand. If your skin is itchy, don’t scratch it. This is easier said than done, but scratching can open your skin up to infection and create painful, continuously itchy patches of open skin.
Don’t hesitate to get professional help with your eczema. If you’re dealing with atopic dermatitis, find a trustworthy dermatologist. They can recommend even more ways to prevent infection, discomfort, and unsightly cracking, and offer prescription strength treatment if necessary. These prescription options can address one or more of your eczema symptoms. Additionally, topical antibacterial or antibiotic ointments can keep infections at bay if you’re particularly at risk.
If you haven’t already asked your New England dermatologist for help dealing with your eczema, contact us today. Discuss your options and employ as many best practices as you can when it comes to caring for skin affected by eczema.