Eczema is one of those frustrating conditions with no real cure. Plus, there’s often little rhyme or reason to its flare-up patterns.
Seeing your doctor for a prescription cream or advice on the right products will certainly go a long way.
On top of that, there are a number of little tricks that can help manage your skin in the meantime. As someone with life-long eczema, these are the hacks I have found most useful.
When you’re trapped in a negative stress-scratch cycle, avoiding itching is often a near-impossible feat. Sometimes when you can’t resist the urge, the best course of action is curbing the impact.
Cutting and filing your nails down short can soften the impact of itching. Investing in plastic nails goes one step further.
False nails don’t cause nearly as much damage as a natural nail. They have a softer and smoother surface that’s unable to break the skin in the same way (unless of course, they chip).
When my eczema was at its worst, I went for manicures every 6 weeks or so and noticed the difference.
The nice nails are, of course, an added bonus!
Note that some people may be allergic to acrylic nails, which can actually develop into eczema. Make sure you aren’t allergic if you choose to go this route.
Magnesium can have a plethora of benefits for optimum health.
Not only does it help with reducing inflammation in the body, but I personally noticed the biggest difference in my sleep quality. Taking magnesium supplements before bed helped me to sleep more deeply and solidly, and there’s science behind this too.
I had been waking 3 or 4 times a night to scratch my skin, but magnesium allowed me to sleep right through it. This is because it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the system responsible for inducing calm and relaxation.
The reason it helped my eczema? The more you sleep, the less you scratch. The less I scratched, the better my eczema got.
Note that more
When you have red and irritated patches of eczema, keeping the area cool can help bring relief and reduce inflammation.
Having cool face cloths on standby in the fridge is an excellent trick for when flare-ups take hold.
A silk pillowcase may seem like a luxurious indulgence, but I noticed a big difference to the skin on my face when I started using one.
Firstly, silk helps your skin stay hydrated. Unlike other fabrics, silk doesn’t wick moisture away from the skin. It’s also naturally hypoallergenic, which means it’s resistant to dust mites, fungus, mold, and other allergens.
This is a bonus for those with highly allergic and eczema-prone skin.
While your bathroom cabinet may contain only the best for sensitive skin, your laundry detergent might need a reboot too.
The issue? Classic laundry detergents are often heavily fragranced, making them a potential irritant for people with eczema. It’s not just your clothes, but bedsheets and towels, too.
I chose a formula that was both fragrance-free and hypoallergenic. Even though my eczema is now under control, I’ve stuck to a sensitive-skin option just in case.
If you’re worried about lingering detergent, you can also wash your clothes and sheets twice, leaving out detergent in the second cycle, to ensure the suds rinse out.
Dryer sheets and fabric softeners can also irritate, so it’s best to steer clear.
Synthetic fabrics can increase sweat, which in turn irritates skin. Plus, acrylic or viscose often cause itching.
Some natural fabrics like wool are also likely to be itchy, so your best bet is soft cotton or linen.
On a similar note, tight clothes can rub the skin and make flare-ups much worse. I found loose-fitting items were the way forward.
Go for loose and cool pajamas in bed too.
If you’re suffering the unfortunate fate of eczema on your eyelids (I feel your pain), a spa-inspired treatment may be the best route.
No, not cucumbers. Chamomile tea bags!
The anti-inflammatory properties of chamomile can work wonders on unhappy eyes, bringing down redness and puffiness caused by eczema.
This relaxing activity is also a good stress-buster. I like to pour a cup of tea, leave it to brew, and then pop the tea bags on my eyes when they cool. Make sure you don’t put hot tea bags on your eyes!
The link between stress and skin conditions is one thing. I also found that stress and scratching were definitely linked.
I always scratched more when I felt anxious or stressed. While scratching can feel like you’re soothing yourself, it usually doesn’t pay off.
Meditation has been shown to improve stress levels, and it certainly became a lifeline for me when my eczema was at its worst. Now I like to start and finish the day with a short meditation.
Apps like Calm offer great guided meditations. Bookending the day with some calm and preparing for a blissful slumber certainly made all the difference for me.
When it came to my eczema, I didn’t find what worked overnight. It took a lot of trial and error to get my symptoms under control — but it is possible.
Don’t be afraid to try new things to see what works for you. You never know what kind of remedy may be just the ticket.
Elizabeth Bennett is a British journalist covering beauty, health, and wellness. Her work has appeared in ELLE, Refinery 29, Marie Claire, and Women’s Health.