woman with eczema after showeringShare on Pinterest
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Eczema is a very common skin condition. It leads to skin that is itchy, red, dry, and swollen. Eczema occurs most often in children, but it can also affect adults. It’s important to keep your skin clean and moisturized when you have eczema. Although showering and bathing are vital for keeping your skin clean, they can also result in dry skin. Dry skin can cause irritation and lead to eczema flare-ups. However, there are methods for showering or bathing when you have eczema that can help keep the moisture in your skin while keeping you clean. 

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:
  • swelling
  • redness
  • itchy skin
  • other signs of an eczema flare-up
In addition, long showers and baths can lead to transepidermal water loss – water that is lost through your skin. This creates dryness and irritation in your skin. It can trigger the itch-scratch cycle — when irritation causes you to scratch, which causes more irritation, which leads to more scratching. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you need to take bathing and showering out of your daily routine if you have eczema. There are several ways you can keep your skin healthy, clean, and moisturized while you shower and bathe. Keep scrolling for eczema showering tips Read more about eczema in this article.

15 tips for skin care after showering if you have eczema

Bacteria 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 start

It’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 door

Closing your bathroom door while you take a shower or bath can keep moisture in the room and in your skin. 

3. Avoid hot temperatures

Water 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 minutes

It’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 shampoos

The 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 products

Scrubs 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 hands

Washcloths, 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 towel

Use a fresh towel washed in dye- and fragrance-free laundry detergent.

10. Dab and pat your skin dry

To avoid irritation, pat and dab your skin dry with a towel rather than rubbing.

11. Moisturize as soon as you get out of the shower

Moisturizing 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 moisturizer

Applying 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 shower

Use any prescription topical eczema creams or ointments right after you finish drying off. 

14. Wait until moisturizer has sunk in to put clothes on

Give your moisturizer a chance to sink in by waiting a few minutes before you get dressed. 

15. Wear eczema-friendly clothes

Fabrics 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 eczema

Emollients 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. 
The right emollient for you depends on your skin and personal preference. For instance, you might use an ointment overnight and a cream during the day. That will help you get the benefits of the ointment but avoid the mess during daytime hours. Lotions aren’t enough moisture for many people with eczema, but they might work for you.   No matter what kind of emollient you choose, it’s important to look for products made with sensitive skin in mind. Look for products made without dyes or fragrances. You can ask your medical provider or your child’s medical provider for kid and baby eczema cream suggestions if you’re not sure where to start. 

When to seek medical care for your eczema

Eczema 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.

The bottom line

Keeping your skin clean and moisturized is an important part of eczema management and overall self-care. A daily shower or bath is one of the best ways to remove bacteria from your skin and prevent eczema flare-ups. However, showers and baths can also cause eczema flare-ups and skin irritation. Taking steps such as limiting your time in the shower, using lukewarm water, avoiding harsh products, and using plenty of moisturizers can help keep your skin healthy. A healthcare professional can help recommend the best shower products and moisturizers for you or your child if you’re not sure what to choose.