Why can showering or bathing make eczema worse?Showering or bathing is an important part of daily self-care. Keeping your skin clean is important for your appearance, hygiene, and overall health. However, showering and bathing can make eczema symptoms worse. People who have eczema have skin that is dry and prone to irritation. Soaps, dyes, long showers, and hot water temperatures can all be too harsh and lead to:
- itchy skin
- other signs of an eczema flare-up
15 tips for skin care after showering if you have eczemaBacteria building up on your skin can trigger eczema flare-ups. That’s one reason why keeping your skin clean is especially important if you have eczema. Showering and then immediately applying moisturizer can also help replenish the oils in your skin, reducing irritation and possibly preventing flare-ups. This is also true for children with eczema. You can use the tips below to care for younger children or use them to help older children develop their own routines. Tips to make the best of your shower or bath include:
1. Set out moisturizer before you startIt’s important to moisturize your skin as soon as you get out of the bath or shower, so it’s best to have a moisturizer ready and waiting. You can set it beside your shower or tub to apply as soon as you’re done. You can also have any prescribed treatments ready.
2. Close the bathroom doorClosing your bathroom door while you take a shower or bath can keep moisture in the room and in your skin.
3. Avoid hot temperaturesWater that is too hot can strip oils from your skin, making it dryer and worsening symptoms. It’s best to use lukewarm water for your showers or baths.
4. Limit showers and baths to 10 minutesIt’s a good idea to limit your bath or shower times to around 10 minutes. Staying in the water longer can dry out your skin.
5. Use mild soaps and shampoosThe best skin care products for eczema are ones without dyes and scents. These ingredients may irritate your skin. Instead, look for mild or sensitive skin soaps.
6. Avoid exfoliating productsScrubs and other exfoliating body washes can be very harsh and irritating for your skin. This may contribute to flare-ups.
7. Avoid retinol and alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs)Just like scented products or scrubs, retinol and AHAs can be too harsh for people with eczema. It’s best to avoid these products.
8. Use your handsWashcloths, loofahs, sponges, and other products for washing up in the shower or bath can irritate your skin. Using your hands is a gentler option.
9. Use a clean towelUse a fresh towel washed in dye- and fragrance-free laundry detergent.
10. Dab and pat your skin dryTo avoid irritation, pat and dab your skin dry with a towel rather than rubbing.
11. Moisturize as soon as you get out of the showerMoisturizing right after your shower or bath seals in the water and helps keep your skin healthy. Try to moisturize within 3 minutes of getting out of the shower.
12. Use downward strokes to apply moisturizerApplying moisturizer in a downward motion, in the direction of hair growth, can help prevent irritation.
13. Apply prescribed skin care creams as soon as you get out of the showerUse any prescription topical eczema creams or ointments right after you finish drying off.
14. Wait until moisturizer has sunk in to put clothes onGive your moisturizer a chance to sink in by waiting a few minutes before you get dressed.
15. Wear eczema-friendly clothesFabrics such as 100 percent cotton, silk, and bamboo can be less irritating for people with eczema.
How to choose an emollient (lotion, cream, ointment) for eczemaEmollients are any moisturizer that keeps your skin soft and healthy. There are three primary types of emollient:
- Ointment. Ointments are very moisturizing and can be great for dry and irritated skin. They are thick, oily, and greasy. However, they can be messy and may stain clothes.
- Cream. Creams are a mix of oil and water. They’re lighter than ointments but still provide a high level of moisture. They’re less messy and absorb into your skin faster than ointments.
- Lotion. Lotions are very light and easy to apply. They’re mostly water and don’t provide as much moisture as creams and ointments.
When to seek medical care for your eczemaEczema can be difficult to manage on your own. Flare-ups can cause redness, irritation, and itching that might not respond to over-the-counter products. It’s a good idea to see a doctor for your eczema if:
- Itchiness is severe and distracting during your day.
- Your skin is peeling or weeping.
- Your skin is blistering.
- Eczema is keeping you awake at night.
- The eczema isn’t responding to over-the-counter treatments.
- Your skin is getting thick or scaly.