Eczema, also known as dermatitis, is a condition that affects the skin, making it dry, irritated and excruciatingly itchy. Eczema typically shows up on the hands and neck as well as behind the knees and elbows. The more you itch, the more irritated your skin will become. To break the cycle, try these treatments to soothe your skin.
Those with eczema have an abnormal skin barrier that doesn’t lock in enough moisture and allows irritants, like allergens and toxins, to enter the body, resulting in inflammation. Frequently applying a moisturizer will help the skin retain moisture, making it more difficult for allergens to irritate the skin. Those with eczema should moisturize as often as possible, especially after bathing.
- Wear comfortable clothes
Wear loose-fitting fabrics that are not irritating to your skin. Cottons are usually the most comfortable fabrics. Avoid irritating, scratchy fabrics like wool and synthetic materials.
- Take an oatmeal or bleach bath
A bath with warm water and oatmeal can also relieve itching. You can find an oatmeal bath mix at your local drug store. Simply follow the directions and soak your skin for 15-20 minutes. After bathing, pat skin dry with a soft towel and apply a good moisturizer.
- Apply a cool compress
Cold compresses can also soothe itchy skin. Hold an ice pack wrapped in a towel to itchy skin for a few minutes to soothe the itch.
- Talk to your doctor about medications for eczema
If none of these steps help soothe your skin, talk to your doctor about medications. Topical anti-inflammatory creams can be used during a flare up, and doctors may prescribe stronger medications if OTC medications are ineffective. Oral antihistamines can also relieve the itch, however they can also result in drowsiness.
When choosing a moisturizer, look for one that is unscented because fragrances often will irritate the skin even further. Choose thicker ointments, such as petroleum jelly, which are better at locking in moisture compared to creams and lotions.
If you scratch repeatedly, you may break the skin and it can become vulnerable to bacterial and viral infections. Bleach baths can reduce your risk of a skin infection. Simply add ½ cup of bleach to a full tub of water, mix well and soak for about 10 minutes. Rinse with warm water. Before taking a bleach bath, consult your doctor, as bleach can be caustic.
Sources: WebMD, BestHealthMag.ca