How to prevent & treat eczema flare-ups

Reviewed by Theresa H. Care Delivery Manager & Family Nurse Practitioner

Time saver 3 min read

Eczema can be really frustrating — your skin is itchy, red, inflamed, dry and seems to flare-up when the temperature dips or rises or when you wash your hands a lot. But all is not lost. There are plenty of ways to manage your eczema.

What is eczema?

Eczema is a non-contagious inflammation of the skin that causes redness, scaling and itching. It usually occurs on areas of the body that bend, such as the inside of elbows, the backs knees, neck, ankles and wrists. An eczema flare-up can also affect the skin on your face, hands and scalp.

The causes of eczema are not well understood, but “flare-ups” can occur when skin is exposed to certain triggers, such as heavily fragranced body care products, cold or hot weather, irritating fabrics or products with drying ingredients, like alcohol.

How to prevent eczema flare-ups

Eczema tends to get worse when skin is aggravated. Therefore, if you are prone to eczema, it’s helpful to understand possible triggers and ways to manage flare-ups, including:

  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize — Dry skin can exacerbate eczema. Add moisture back into your skin by using a thick, fragrance-free lotion such as Vanicream or Cetaphil.
  • Be gentle with your skin — If you have eczema, your skin is more sensitive. Opt for clothing made of soft and natural fabrics like cotton and avoid using personal-care products with harsh fragrances.
  • Keep showers brief and warm — Take short showers and avoid using hot water as it can dry out your skin and make eczema worse.
  • Pat dry, don’t rub — Scratchy and abrasive fabrics can aggravate sensitive skin. Gently patting skin dry after washing and showering causes less irritation.

Preventing flare-ups on hands

If you get eczema on your hands, you may find these additional tips helpful.

  • Exercise caution with hand sanitizer — Alcohol in hand sanitizer dries out skin, which can lead to irritation and painful cracks. If you don’t have access to soap and water, try a hand sanitizer with moisturizing ingredients added, like aloe.
  • Wear protective gloves more frequently — Wearing gloves when doing tasks like cleaning the house, washing the dishes or gardening can protect and preserve skin.

How to treat an eczema flare-up

Eczema flare-ups can be uncomfortable and make you feel self-conscious. The following tips can help treat current flare-ups and stave off future ones:

  • Keep affected area(s) clean — Wash the area with a mild hypoallergenic soap and keep clean. If you don’t know where to start, the National Eczema Association has a directory of gentle products.
  • Avoid scratching — Do your best to avoid scratching the affected area(s) as doing so can damage and break the skin — potentially introducing bacteria which can lead to an infection.
  • Use topical creams or ointments — In addition to keeping the area(s) moisturized, use a topical 1% hydrocortisone cream to relieve itching. You can also use an oral over-the-counter antihistamine, but be careful not to use both at the same time.
  • Avoid activities that make you sweat — Sweat can make your skin itchy and more uncomfortable. Wait to run that 5k or relax in a sauna until your eczema is under control.

Eczema flare-ups, Poof be gone!

Don’t let an eczema flare-up alter your life or plans. Be confident in your skin by following these preventive tips to keep eczema at bay. If flare-ups do occur, get quick and convenient online treatment from Virtuwell.

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