Eczema is a broad term used to define a set of skin conditions involving inflammation that affects approximately 35 million Americans every day with the majority of sufferers being children. The most common form of eczema is known as Atopic Dermatitis (AD) which is generally the result of an allergy that contributes to skin inflammation. Those who suffer from eczema typically experience dry, scaly, itchy skin and chronic rashes. Every case of eczema, however, is unique and some sufferers may experience mild discomfort while others report extreme itchiness along with oozing or bleeding rashes.
While there is no known cure for eczema, there are a number of tips and tricks that eczema sufferers, dermatologists, and caregivers have found to be beneficial in treating eczema symptoms and alleviating any discomfort, which includes:
1. Use Crisco as a Moisturizer
As dry skin is a contributing factor in the development of eczema-related outbreaks, one of the most vital eczema tips is to keep skin properly hydrated and moisturized. There are a number of lotions designed to target eczema prone skin, though they are often expensive and may contain bothersome fragrances and dyes. To allow your skin to absorb a maximum amount of moisture, dermatologists recommended coating the skin with Crisco or off-brand shortening after showering. This is not only effective in eliminating dry skin without causing excessive irritation, it is also a budget-friendly approach.
2. Limit the Use of Soap
All soaps are irritating, some just more so than others. If you have eczema, you should try to pick a very mild soap or cleanser. Examples include Dove, Tone or Caress. More important than the kind of soap you use is the amount of soap you use. Soap is necessary for the armpits, groin, hands, and feet. All the other body areas can be rinsed with water unless they are especially dirty from working in the yard or mechanical work. Using less soap is also helpful because it means using less water. Since the skin is dry, you would think that water would be helpful but it is not. In the end, the less soap and the less water you use, the better your skin will be.
3. Take a Bleach Bath
While bleach may sound like the last thing a person with eczema wants to come in contact with, bleach baths have proven to be extremely beneficial in eliminating itchy and improving the appearance and texture of the skin. The effect is thought to be from changing the pH of the skin and reducing the ability of bacteria to grow. To take advantage of this common household ingredient, fill your bathtub halfway and then add 1/2 a cup of regular household grade bleach. Remain in the tub for approximately 15 minutes and then proceed to dry and moisturize the skin as usual (with Crisco or another thick moisturizer).
4. Take Antihistamines for Itching
In the event of itchy skin, antihistamines can provide much-needed relief. It is important to note, however, that they may not be effective for every eczema suffer but the risk of antihistamines is relatively low for most individuals, which warrants giving them a try. There are a plethora of non-prescription antihistamines available at every pharmacy, such as Benadryl or Allegra. Some antihistamines elicit drowsiness, such as Benadryl, which can be helpful if itching is keeping you awake while non-drowsy formulas, like Allegra, are best suited for daytime use.
5. Turn Off Forced Air Heating
Fortunately, winters in areas such as Southern California are typically not cold. Hot or cold though, winters are inherently dry. This is especially true for those who depend on forced air heating in their homes. The air being forced out is warm, but it is also extremely dry and can remove moisture from the skin, contributing to more frequent eczema outbreaks and itching. To eliminate further irritation, consider getting warm with methods like additional blankets, small space heaters (without forced air) or fireplaces instead of central heating. If you must use forced air heating, be sure to use a humidifier to add moisture back into the air.
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Do you need help with treating eczema for yourself or your child? Contact us today at the California Dermatology & Clinical Research Institute. Give us a call at (760) 203-3839.