Eczema Prevention

Although a number of medical treatments are available for eczema, the best defense against skin conditions is prevention. Minimizing your contact with triggers and the known and suspected causes of itching will help keep skin conditions under control. Practicing a daily regimen of skin care helps to reduce eczema symptoms.

Bathing and Skin Care

A long soak in a steaming hot bath is a great way to relax and unwind, but unfortunately is also one of the causes of itching if you have eczema. Bathing, especially bathing in hot water, dehydrates your skin. Natural oils that moisturize the skin are lost when bathing. Vigorously rubbing with a towel further reduces your skin’s levels of natural moisturizers.

Quick, lukewarm showers are better than long hot baths for your skin. If you prefer to bathe, use lukewarm water and bathe for ten to twenty minutes only. Avoid using soaps: even a mild soap can dry and irritate skin. When you dry after a shower, pat yourself dry: rubbing can do as much damage to your skin as scratching. Once dry, moisturize with a gentle cream, ointment, or lotion.

Controlling Allergens

Allergens can trigger eczema, and are one of the more common causes of itching. Almost anything can be an allergen: pet dander, dust, pollen, perfumes, soaps, and rubber are all common allergens. Avoiding these and other suspected allergens may reduce your chances of triggering skin rashes.

The best strategies to minimize contact with dust mites are washing clothing and bed linens and vacuuming on a regular basis. Pillow and mattress wraps also help reduce contact with mites. Some people replace carpet with linoleum, wood or other flooring, as carpets tend to harbor large numbers of dust mites.

Excessive Sweating and Skin Rashes

Excessive sweating can aggravate eczema — especially skin rashes near the joints, under the breasts and any other body areas where the skin folds on itself. Obesity greatly increases the chances of excessive sweating and skin fold rashes, so weight loss may help reduce symptoms. Altering exercise programs to reduce sweating and wearing soft, absorbent clothing may also help.

Kids and Eczema

Experts estimate that some ten to twenty percent of children suffer from infant eczema. In many cases, infant eczema rashes fade and diminish with age. About half will continue with some form of eczema. Parents of children with skin disorders face special challenges. Small children are likely to scratch itchy rashes and older children may experience bullying and teasing about their visible eczema symptoms. Young children may be kept awake by incessant itching.

Young children often have a hard time resisting the urge to scratch eczema rashes. Make sure the child’s fingernails are cut short to minimize damage done by scratching. For infants, using mittens often prevents them from scratching themselves, but do make sure that the mitten material itself does not trigger rashes.

Other Tips

Laundry soap can leave residue on clothes that aggravates eczema. Look for laundry soap designed for sensitive skin. Some people prefer to use baking soda to wash their clothes. Whether using a gentle laundry soap or baking soda, rinse clothes thoroughly to remove any residues.

If low humidity causes your skin to dry and crack, try using humidifiers in your home or office. Humidifying the air in the rooms where you spend time is a good strategy if you are prone to dry skin conditions.

Resources

Ezcemacanada.com. (nd). Treating eczema. Retrieved June 19, 2002, from www.eczemacanada.ca/treating/treating.htm.

National Eczema Association for Science and Education. (nd). Living with eczema. Retrieved June 19, 2002, from www.nationaleczema.org/patiented.html.

National Eczema Society. (nd). Eczema: Frequently asked questions. Retrieved June 20, 2002, from www.eczema.org/faqfile.htm#can.

Sands, C. (nd). Eczema management guidebook. Retrieved June 19, 2002, from www.eczema.cc/guidebook/index.html.