Eczema is a condition that causes dry, inflamed, itchy skin because of a gene variant that decreases the skin’s ability to protect itself. When a person’s eczema isn’t well treated or controlled, their skin develops patches of skin that are red, swollen, and intensely itchy. The patches can weep fluids, and skin infections may be more common.
While there is no cure for eczema, it is treatable. In tandem with your holistic treatment plan prescribed by your doctor, the following everyday tips may help you take care of your eczema.
1. Be Mindful of Your Eczema and What You Eat
People with eczema often find that certain foods are irritants or eczema triggers. A trigger is anything that aggravates your skin, causing new eczema to appear or existing eczema to worsen. There is no singular, one-size-fits-all eczema diet, but following certain recommendations and dietary guidelines may help you control your eczema flares and symptoms.
For example, it may be helpful to eat more probiotics, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins D and E, and zinc as part of your diet to support a healthy immune system. It may help to avoid gluten, dairy, sugar, and highly processed foods, which are often the source of intolerances or sensitivities.
Food sensitivities or allergies are specific to you and as such, your diet should be personalized to you and your condition. Pay attention to your diet and how it makes you feel, and see if avoiding potential triggers helps relieve your redness and itching.
2. Run an Eczema-Friendly Bath
Bathing properly is an important part of the eczema skin care routine. Daily baths help the skin heal, restore much-needed moisture, prevent infection, and soothe itchiness.
To find the most relief, try running a lukewarm bath with disinfecting and soothing ingredients. Adding a small amount of bleach (a half cup to a full tub of water) to your bath water may decrease inflammation and reduce the bacteria on your skin to help avoid infection. Colloidal oatmeal added to bathwater may also help soothe itching. Salt, vinegar, and baking soda may have similar benefits.
While you’re in the bath, use a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser instead of harsh soap to clean your skin. Avoid soaking too long, which may further aggravate your skin. Instead, shoot for five to 10 minutes. After getting out and patting dry, apply your moisturizer as soon as possible.
3. Resist the Itch to Scratch
An important part of living with eczema is not scratching: scratching is what leads to broken skin and increases the risk of infection. Broken skin allows irritants and harmful infectious agents to enter the skin more easily and cause a reaction. Scratching will ultimately exacerbate itching and may cause the eczema to flare up.
To overcome the urge to scratch that eczema itch, try to substitute another action for scratching, such as gently pinching the skin. A cool pack or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel may also provide the relief you’re looking for. To minimize damage to your skin if you do scratch, keep your nails short and make sure there are no jagged edges.
There’s no cookie-cutter treatment approach for eczema, but steps toward proactive daily management can help.