What Can You Do to Manage Eczema

Lotions are great for dry skin caused by cold winters, hot summers, and windy days, but if nothing seems to calm your extremely itchy skin, it may be time to find out if you’re dealing something more than just weather-related dry skin — eczema.

If you live in the lowcountry, your best bet is to check in with Dr. Oswald Mikell at Dermatology Associates of the Lowcountry. He is double board certified by the American Board of Dermatology and the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery and has helped countless patients manage their eczema symptoms for more than three decades.

Whether you have atopic dermatitis, which happens when your immune system fails to protect your skin from allergens and irritants, or you have contact dermatitis, which occurs when you touch one of those allergens or irritants — it’s all called eczema.

First, you should know that eczema is fairly common. Millions of people of all ages suffer from some form of it throughout the country. If you’re one of them, here are some of the ways you can get your symptoms under control.

At-home treatments for eczema

To keep your itchy skin from advancing to bumps, swelling, cracks, and discolorations, there are a few things you can try on your own, including bleach baths, cleansers, and moisturizers.

Bleach baths

Eczema is bad enough, but if you get a bacterial infection as well, it can go from bad to worse. One of the best ways to treat it is with a mild bleach bath to kill the bacteria.

It’s important not to overdo it with the bleach: Add just ¼ to ½ cup of household bleach into about 40 gallons of water in your tub. (Full instructions are in the video at the bottom our eczema page.)

Submerse yourself all the way up to your neck and soak for a while, being careful not to splash any of the bleach water into your eyes or mouth. When you’re done, pat dry and apply moisturizer. This may help relieve your symptoms, but remember, too much of a good thing can be bad. Keep your bleach baths to no more than three times a week.

Cleansers

How you clean your skin matters. Your cleanser should keep the normal balance of your skin’s normal pH, which is 4 to 5. Most soaps have a higher pH (9 to 10), which can dry your skin — not good if you have eczema. Opt for gentle cleansers without sodium lauryl sulfate (that’s what makes soaps get foamy).

Moisturizers

Your skin, your body’s largest organ, is meant to protect you from outside elements. But if you have eczema, that barrier’s been compromised, which means it has a hard time keeping things out (like bacteria) and has a hard time keeping things in (like moisture). Give your skin a helping hand by keeping it well-hydrated.

But don’t reach for just any product. Here’s what you need to know about moisturizers for eczema.

Ointments

Ointments are generally best for your eczema because they contain the most oil. They may feel a bit greasy on your skin, but they’re your best bet for sealing in the moisture and restoring your skin’s protective barrier.

Creams

Like ointment, creams contain some oil — just a little less. But if you don’t like the greasy feel of an ointment, this is the next best thing. Look for creams that have pure, natural ingredients that won’t further irritate your sensitive skin. If you see the words lipids or ceramides on the label, that’s a good thing — they’re great barriers.

Lotions

This is the least effective choice for moisturizing your thirsty eczema skin. It’s mostly water, which obviously evaporates. Many also contain perfumes and preservatives that can make matters worse.

Trigger avoidance

You may find that your eczema flares up seasonally or after exposure to something in particular. Identifying exactly what triggers your eczema can be tricky, because oftentimes your reaction will be delayed. But if you can figure out what causes your eczema to make an unwanted appearance, you can learn to avoid the culprits.

Some of the most common eczema triggers are:

When you’ve tried all these techniques and still need some help managing your eczema symptoms, Dr. Mikell can offer you relief through medication and other treatments, such as corticosteroid creams, oral corticosteroids to control inflammation, and light therapy using UVB rays.

Call any of our three locations in the South Carolina lowcountry or click the button to schedule an appointment and get your eczema under control.

Keep an eye out for our next blog post in July, where you can learn all you need to know about adult acne.

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