Did you ever wonder how to fix really bad eczema or what things make eczema worse? Eczema is a tricky skin issue but it is possible to get your skin back to being clear and free with a few simple steps.
Personally I struggled with eczema for years, and it wasn’t until I finally cleared my skin that I realized some of the things I thought were good for me turned out to actually be making it worse!
In this guide you will know how to properly take care of an eczema outbreak, as well as learn about some common eczema mistakes and how to fix them.
After reading this guide you will know exactly what things to do and what things to avoid when you have eczema.
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Use a gentle cleanser
When you’re dealing with an eczema breakouts you want to use proper skin care. This helps the skin heal faster and avoid eczema from spreading, becoming infected or getting more itchy.
In general, you want to be as gentle as possible as scratching or rubbing the skin tends to make the outbreak worse.
How to wash your body with eczema
I used to make the mistake of bathing or showering too long, or with water that is too hot. This can make the skin crack and dry out even more!
According to eczema studies, the ideal way to wash eczema is by taking at least one bath or shower per day to clean the skin, not longer than 10-15 minutes. If possible, use lukewarm water and avoid hot heated baths that can make eczema (especially weeping eczema) feel more itchy.
What soap should you use to wash eczema?
One eczema study, revealed that frequent hygiene practices that does not involve use of soaps and detergents, are protective for eczema symptoms.
A mistake I made with my eczema was using my regular hand soap to wash my skin. Regular soaps and detergents often have harsh chemicals that are well known to trigger allergic contact dermatitis in those with sensitive skin. Meanwhile, now there are so many types of soaps that are free of alcohol and toxic chemicals. They should have a pH level similar to that of human skin. For example, goat milk soap helps people suffering from eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis because it contains saturated and unsaturated fats. You can also use soaps with natural oils that clean and remove dead skin. Overall, the most important thing is to pay attention to the ingredients in your cleanser.
For eczema, you want to use gentle cleansers without alcohol, fragrance or sulfates. Cleansers that are alcohol and sulphate free can clean your skin without removing too much moisture.
If you have flare-ups that are more severe, you can also just use warm water and no cleansers, if you find your skin does better with that.
Can water cause eczema or make eczema worse?
If you still find yourself itchy even after switching to gentle cleansers, you might also want to check the quality of the water where you live to make sure it isn’t “hard”. For me, I noticed that if I shower with hard water, my skin feels really dry and rough afterwards.
“Hard water” is water that contains a large amount of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sulfates, chlorine, etc., which can greatly affect your skin by intense dryness.
Researchers from London discovered that exposing the skin to hard water disrupts the skin’s Ph balance and damages the outside skin barrier and increases the sensitivity to irritants outside.
According to the head researcher of the study “washing with hard water may contribute to the development of eczema”. Yikes!
To check if your water is “hard”, do a google search using your zip code and type “water condition or water quality”. Most cities publicly post their water quality and you should be able to quickly know the condition your water is in.
If your water is hard, no worries! One easy fix is to get a portable shower filter ( I use and recommend this one). A water filter softens the water, balances the Ph, and takes out any harsh chemicals that might irritate your skin.
Should you scrub off the eczema?
No. When I was younger I thought eczema would go away if I exfoliated it. Huge mistake! Using a loofa, hard scrubs with beads, or chemical peels on eczema will not take it away. Eczema is a reaction that starts from inside (more on that here), so scrubbing or rubbing it off doesn’t help. It will only make your skin more irritated and red.
Be as gentle as possible with your eczema. Use your hands or a soft sponge in the bath or shower.
If you follow the steps in the rest of this article, the eczema should go away on its own!
Step 2: Soothe eczema with an emollient
Now that you’ve got your cleaning basics down, the next step is choosing the right type of emollient to use afterwards. Emollients are pretty much a fancy word for moisturizers, and they are often used to help soothe eczema.
Emollients are moisturizing treatments that you can apply directly to your skin to soothe and hydrate it. They also cover the skin with a protective film to keep things out and lock moisture in. Using an emollient can help to prevent dryness and cracks, lock in the moisture, and keep your skin hydrated.
To get the most moisture on your skin, you want to use an emollient immediately after a shower or bath, as this helps seal in the water and can replace the moisture on your skin.
Read on to know what kind of emollients work best for eczema.
What is the best emollient for eczema?
There are three types of emollient moisturizers that work best for eczema:
Ointments (for very dry skin): thick greasy ointments can help to hold water into the skin. These can also provide a protective barrier to keep irritants out. The downside is that they can feel greasy.
Creams (for moderately dry skin): also thick but less greasy than regular ointments. This is my preferred emollient when dealing with a breakout.
Lotions (for less dry skin) : these are thinner and contain a lot of water. Great for regular moisturizer. The downside is that when the water evaporates, your skin might feel dry again so you need to re-apply more often.
Try using one of these types of emollients on your eczema as soon as you come out of the shower or bath. You can also use a mix of these emollients depending on your skin.
For me, I like to use a lotion all over my body, and then a cream for the parts of my skin that are more prone to dryness. This helps my skin a lot!
You may have heard of using wet wraps for eczema flareups. Using wet wraps for eczema is a special type of dressing that is used to provide additional moisture to the skin, while protecting it from outside irritants.
Wet-wrapping is not necessary for all eczema, however some studies show it can be very efficient if you are dealing with severe eczema flare-ups.
Here is how to use a wet-wrap for eczema:
– First, moisten cotton gauze in warm water until it is slightly damp.
– Next, wrap the moist dressing around the eczema area. Then, take another layer of gauze (or cotton clothing or dressing) and layer it over the wet one to keep it in place. You can use tape or bandages to hold everything in place.
– Finally, wear clothing over the area as to not disturb the dressing in place. Leave the wet wrap on your eczema for several hours or overnight to see the best results.
For most people, the regular dressing will be enough to protect the eczema from getting worse, however you can definitely give wet-wrapping a try to see if that helps you too!
PS: Don't know where to start? Sign up to my free series The Clear Skin Plan !
Christina thank you so much for sharing your experiences with eczema this is so helpful for anyone struggling with this. ?
Hi Dianne, thanks for reading and your kind words! I hope it helps you with your skin 🙂
Thanks I really appreciate the help and will certainly use the tips, Linnie
You’re so welcome, let me know how it goes! 🙂
Thanks for all your information! I have found it very helpful! My eczema is slowly getting better!
That’s great to hear!
Brian Varney says
Christina, thanks for your suggestions! I have been following your advice for years, and I am grateful.
Hi Brian! Thanks for leaving me a message, I’m so glad my suggestions could help you! Let us know how it goes with your skin 🙂