Eczema is a pesky condition triggered by the environment and inherent in a person’s genetics. It shows up in the form of itchiness, dryness, and redness. Scratching an inflamed area may feel nice, but doing so tends to only make things worse. Ointments with corticosteroids are sometimes used to treat severe flares. While these treatments can certainly help eliminate eczema faster, some patients are reluctant to use them due to potential side effects.
Fortunately, you could reduce or even eliminate the need for hydrocortisone ointments. Here are six ways to prevent your eczema from spinning out of control.
- Lathering up less
Take some time to gently massage your body under running water. Use just enough of a mild and moisturizing bath product to thinly coat your skin.
Alternatively, you could eliminate some products from your shower routine. Consider the no-poo (shampoo-free) method. Some people even shower without soap. Be warned that soap-less showers require a little more time in the shower, which may trigger eczema if the water is too hot. You may also have to scrub more. Avoid using abrasive methods and stick to rigorous rubbing.
Another way to lather up less is to take less showers. During those days, stick to washing your face and rinsing specific body parts that are prone to sweat and odor.
- Befriending coconut oil
Coconut oil is a fatty substance that’s solid at room temperature and melts in your hand. Prevent and treat eczema by using it as a skin moisturizer. A little goes a long way, so don’t overdo it. When you apply just enough, your skin should feel silky and plump. But if you put so much that you feel like an oily wrestler, this will backfire and can actually trigger your eczema, especially wherever you’re prone to sweating.
Make sure to choose coconut oil that is extra-virgin, organic, and cold-pressed for best results. Avoid using it in areas prone to acne. Some people are able to tolerate it on their faces, however, so consider it if your face is prone to dryness.
- Applying the right moisturizer
While coconut oil is great for its antibacterial properties and quick absorption into dry skin, it may not last. You could either apply it more frequently or attempt to apply a thicker amount, only to end up with clogged skin and potentially more itchiness.
From personal experience, I’ve found that coconut oil with a good moisturizer such as Aveeno form an exceptional tag team. The moisturizer locks in the coconut oil and adds an extra layer of skin protection. In general, look for lotions that are gentle, fragrance free, and made especially for sensitive skin. Lotions with ingredients like shea butter, oat, and dimethicone are soothing and long lasting. If the lotion is also hypoallergenic and non-comodogenic, you may be able to get away with using a small amount on your face if it’s especially dry.
- Approaching scented products with caution
Fragrance-filled lotions and soaps can flare you up. Be sure to patch-test something before buying it. Some people with eczema can tolerate scented products in small amounts so long as they moisturize diligently beforehand. But if you can’t, don’t lie to yourself and insist on using it. Is it really worth the pain, rashes, and itchiness to smell a certain way?
If you really want a distinct scent, consider adding nourishing essential oils such as lavender to your moisturizer. You could also spray some body mist onto the outer parts of your clothing. Finally, if you really want to use perfume, consider applying it to your belly button area (making sure it’s moisturized well.) Unless you’re wearing something that exposes this area, it’s a pretty discrete pulse point. So not only will the perfume scent last longer. If the perfume triggers an unfortunate flare, at least it’s hidden.
- Going for comfort as much as style
Avoid dressing in a way that promotes sweating. This means not overdressing during warmer weather, even when you really like your layered outfit. You could also avoid sweat by wearing flowy, breathable clothing.
Conversely, cover up in a weather-appropriate way when the air is dry.
Third, avoid scratchy material, especially if the fabric hugs your body. Try to keep the layers touching your skin soft and breathable.
Interestingly the front buttons on your jeans may actually be a small but legitimate trigger for flares, especially with skinnier jeans. To avoid flares, apply a small, circular band aid to the back of the button that touches your stomach.
- Eating and drinking well
It’s important to quench the dryness not just externally but also internally. Do this by drinking water and eating hydrating foods such as fruits and vegetables. Limit foods and drinks that promote dehydration such as alcohol, energy drinks, and instant ramen.
Marjorie Desamito is a content writer who has experienced life with eczema and hopes to share her insights through this article. You can find her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/marjdes8