Being prepared for an eczema flare-up is essential to keeping your skin in check. You might want to pack your bag with items like moisturizers, gentle soaps, bandages, and more.

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From the harsh, fragranced soap in your office’s bathroom to the cold of winter, many external factors can cause your eczema to flare. However, you can mitigate these painful symptoms by being prepared.

In this article, we review essentials that can help guard against eczema flare-ups and treat any emergency.

If you have severe eczema, two of your primary goals should be retaining moisture and preventing your skin from becoming too dry. Try to moisturize your hands and arms whenever you wash them, and use lukewarm water instead of hot.

Sometimes, choosing the right moisturizer takes a trial-and-error approach. Some suggestions for products you can find in travel-size containers include:

  • Petroleum jelly: This ointment is excellent for retaining moisture, so you can try applying it over other creams. Because of its heavy, thick texture, it may be more suited to applying to patches of skin or your lips.
  • Hand creams: Hand creams are thicker than lotions because they contain more oils. Try to avoid ones with added fragrances and preservatives because these can irritate your skin. Look for fragrance-free options with a National Eczema Association or American Academy of Dermatology seal of approval.

If you find a moisturizing product you love that doesn’t come in travel size, you can make your own travel-size product by transferring some into a small squeeze bottle. You can buy these at most drugstores.

Sometimes, the best treatments for eczema aren’t what you put on your skin — instead, they include what you can do to reduce stress and its effects on your body.

Stocking your bag with something that can help you relieve stress can prevent flare-ups. You can try:

  • Stress balls: These are easy to pack in a bag. You can take them out to squeeze or roll when you feel stressed.
  • Fidget cubes or spinners: These are supposed to occupy your hands, and different sensations are used to promote calm.
  • Putty: The kneading motions associated with using putty or Play-Doh can help relieve stress. Taking a few moments to form the putty into a ball or spread the putty out while taking deep breaths can go a long way.

Besides being handy during times of stress, you can also use these objects when you have an urge to itch or scratch an inflamed area of skin. You can also keep a pair of nail clippers or a file in your bag.

If the soap at your school or office is too harsh, consider taking your own.

Look for a hand soap free of fragrances and dyes. Some even contain moisturizers to counteract the dryness that naturally occurs when you clean your skin.

Antibacterial gels are common in people’s purses and bags, but they’re often too drying if you have severe eczema. Washing your hands with a mild soap and lukewarm water is likely the best option to keep your skin moisturized and clean.

In a pinch, a Band-Aid can be an excellent way to keep you from scratching an inflamed and dry area. However, they’re not a long-term solution.

You also should never apply a dry bandage to an infected area of eczema. Instead, your dermatologist can provide special wet bandages and teach you how to apply them.

Having these must-haves on hand can help prevent itchy, uncomfortable eczema when you aren’t close to home.

You may have to try a few different moisturizers and soaps before you find the right one. But once you do, they can keep your skin feeling much more comfortable wherever you go.