Tips to Control Eczema
Eczema is a chronic skin condition that can cause severe itching, pain, and swelling. Fortunately, there are a number of ways that you can gain control over this disorder and experience a more comfortable life. Eczema can be controlled by managing symptoms when they occur and by finding ways to prevent or decrease the occurrence of eczema episodes. Each person experiences eczema differently; therefore, a solution that provides relief for one person, may not be helpful for another. As such, it is important that eczema sufferers find an experienced dermatologist to support them as they manage their condition. Our team of dermatologists has been helping eczema patients throughout NY and NJ improves the quality of their lives through proper eczema management.
From our many years of treating people in New York City, New Jersey, Suffolk County, and Nassau County, we have developed a number of strategies for controlling eczema. Drawing on that knowledge, we have put together the following set of tips and recommendations to help control eczema.
Tips and Recommendations for Managing Eczema
- Know and avoid your triggers. Try to figure out what triggers or worsens an episode of eczema (your doctor can help). Once you understand what causes a flare up, you will be more in control of your condition. Common ingredients in many household products, such as soaps, toothpaste, fabric softeners, may worsen your eczema. Many eczema sufferers also suffer from seasonal and food allergies, which may exacerbate your condition. You may wish to undergo allergy testing so you can become aware of such triggers and avoid them.
- Avoid allowing your skin dry out. The ingredients in most conventional soaps and shampoos can cause the skin to dry out. Try using a hypoallergenic wash or forgoing soap altogether. Hot baths and showers will also dry out the skin, so it’s best to bathe in lukewarm water. Your doctor may recommend that you bathe more or less frequently, depending on your unique case.
- Keep your skin moisturized. Regularly apply an emollient-rich moisturizer to you skin at least three times a day. Avoid using lotions, creams, or ointments that contain fragrances and other common irritants. In general, look for a product that contains only a few ingredients, as this will help you identify and avoid known triggers more easily. Some people use oils (such as olive or avocado oil) to control their eczema. You may find this helpful, but be sure that you are not allergic to any of the ingredients first. In order for the moisturizer to be effective, your skin should be damp. Apply moisturizers directly after bathing, or dampen your skin before applying the moisturizer.
- Minimize itching. In order to allow your skin to heal, you must avoid the itch-scratch cycle. Routine moisturizing can help prevent itchiness, but there will be times when you feel itchy even after preventative measures. In these cases, speak with your doctor about the types of medications you can use to safely control itching sensations and prevent scratching your skin. These medications may include an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or anti-inflammatory tablets. For more severe cases, your doctor may prescribe something stronger.
- Regulate your living environment. Extreme temperature and humidity changes in your home may cause an eczema flare up. Use air conditioning, heating, and a humidifier to regular the conditions inside of your home, as recommended by your doctor.
- Ointments may be better than creams. Many dermatologists recommend that their patients use ointments rather than creams. Ointments consist of 80% oil or more, while creams and lotions contain less than 50%. Thus, ointments tend to be better moisturizers and are more effective at sealing in moisture and creating a protective barrier around your skin. The key, however, is to actually use the moisturizers, so if a heavy ointment prevents you from going about your normal routine and deters you from applying any moisturizer, then it’s not the right choice for you.
- Use antibiotic ointment on cracked skin. If your skin routinely cracks from eczema, you may wish to apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment to prevent infection of the affected skin.
- Keep your nails trimmed and hands clean. Because scratching may be unavoidable or uncontrollable (for example, during the night), you can help yourself by keeping your nails short to avoid severely scratching your skin. Keep your hands clean to prevent infection in the event that you scratch to the point of bleeding. You may also wish to consider wearing soft gloves to bed at night to prevent nighttime scratching.