Eczema can sometimes feel like a nightmare when you’re dealing with painful, inflamed skin, the itch-scratch cycle, and missing out on fun activities because they could cause a flare-up. Fortunately, the condition can usually be managed with a proper skincare routine and medical treatment. Keep your eczema under control with these top five tips recommended by Amanda Cresswell-Melville, executive director of the Eczema Society of Canada.
- Hydrate your skin. Bathing and frequent moisturizing are the cornerstone of eczema care — but you’ll only achieve the full benefits if you’re hydrating correctly. Bathe or shower in warm water for 5 to 10 minutes, avoiding hot water that can be drying. Gently pat excess water with your towel, leaving some moisture on the skin. Using gentle strokes in the direction of hair growth, apply a generous amount of moisturizer to your entire body within 3 minutes of exiting the water. Be sure to apply moisturizer at least one more time throughout the day and any time skin feels dry and itchy.
- Use the right skincare products. People with eczema have sensitive skin, so it’s important to choose cleansers and moisturizers that won’t do more harm than good. A great way to check that your product is intended for use by people with eczema is to look for the Eczema Society of Canada Seal of Acceptance. Products identified as Accepted are free of ingredients known to be irritating for sensitive skin and have undergone dermatologist formulation review.
- Avoid potential triggers. Knowing your personal triggers is great, but there are irritants that might not be on your radar yet and sometimes eczema flares with no known trigger. To help keep skin calm, use soft and breathable clothing and bedding, protect your mattress with a dust mite cover, take a cool bath or shower after sweating, and try not to play in itchy grass or leaves. Keep your house cool to prevent overheating and use a humidifier in the winter if you find that helpful— just be sure to clean the unit according to instructions.
- Cope with flare-ups. During a flare-up or period of intense itching, try a cool compress or take a cooling shower. Ditch the need to itch with a distracting activity that keeps your hands busy, like reading a good book, playing a video game, or crafting. Stress can make eczema worse, so keep stress levels low with regular exercise, relaxation techniques, and activities that you enjoy.
- Get support. Eczema is a spectrum disease, meaning the condition ranges from mild to severe and can cause significant physical and psychological impacts. Reach out to a friend or loved one, ask your doctor about psychological support, and educate yourself about the condition to help decrease stress and increase feelings of control.
Sometimes, moderate to severe eczema can be challenging to manage. Find more information and resources at www.eczemahelp.ca