It’s important to remember that eczema is different for everyone. The symptoms you have may not look the same on you as they do on another adult, or on your child. You or your child may experience certain symptoms at particular times of the year and/or on different parts of the body.
Eczema or atopic dermatitis is itchy, annoying, unsightly and can be painful. It’s a chronic, recurring skin disorder that results in dry, easily irritated, itchy skin. There is no cure for it, but good daily skin care and a few, simple lifestyle changes can help you manage the disease.
Know what your triggers are for eczema and avoid them as much as possible. A trigger is not something that causes eczema. But it can cause it to flare or make a flare worse.
Many everyday products and even natural substances can cause your skin to burn and itch, or become dry and red. These could be products that you use on your body or in your home — hand and dish soap, laundry detergent, shampoo, soaps, perfume, makeup, bubble bath and body wash, or surface cleaners and disinfectants. Often, natural liquids, like the juice from fresh fruit, vegetables, or meats, can irritate your skin when you touch them.
Avoid products with fragrance, including soaps, perfumes, cosmetics, and scented body lotions. Instead, look for unscented, mild products without additives or chemicals. Gentle, products are best. Contrary to popular belief, natural does not always mean gentle. Sometimes natural products are helpful, but sometimes they’re not. This is particularly true of food-based soaps and moisturizers.
Reduce skin irritation by following some of these tips to help your eczema:
- Wash all new clothes before wearing them. This removes formaldehyde and other potentially irritating chemicals that are used during production and packing.
- Add a second rinse cycle to your washer to ensure removal of soap, if you are concerned. Residual laundry detergent, particularly perfume or dye, may be irritating when it remains in the clothing. Changing to a liquid or fragrance-free, dye-free detergent may also be helpful.
- Wear garments that allow air to pass freely to your skin. Open weave, loose-fitting, cotton-blend clothing may be most comfortable.
- Work and sleep in comfortable surroundings with an appropriate (not too hot and not too dry), fairly constant temperature and humidity level.
- Keep fingernails very short and smooth to help prevent damage due to scratching.
- While sedating antihistamines are often used to treat itch because of their sedating effects, you should consult your allergist for the anti-itch medication that will be best for you.