Skin Problems and Treatments: Easy Everyday Tips for Eczema

Scratching your skin can make it worse and may lead to an infection.

Keep Your Nails Short

Scratching can make an inflamed patch of skin even worse. To limit the damage you do, trim your nails short, and file them smooth. You can also try using the side or top of your hand to scratch instead of your nails.

Applying a cool washcloth on your skin can help alleviate itching and redness.

Chill Out

Keep a washcloth in your refrigerator or freezer for those times when itching feels out of control. The cold will numb your skin and give you instant relief. It can also help ease redness and swelling. Put a towel between the washcloth and your skin, and leave it on for no more than 20 minutes at a time. You can also keep moisturizing creams in the fridge for an added calming effect.

Opt for clothing made from natural fabrics that allow your skin to breathe instead of synthetic clothing that isn't breathable.

Wear Natural Fabrics

You'll be most comfortable in materials that let air come into contact with your skin. When you can, skip wool and human-made fabrics like nylon and polyester. Instead, opt for clothes made from 100% cotton, bamboo, silk, or Tencel, an eco-friendly fiber made from wood pulp. These natural fabrics allow your skin to "breathe."

Use high-thread count cotton sheets, which will be less irritating to your skin.

Stay Cool at Night

All-cotton sheets help control your body heat so you don't get hot and itchy during the night. The higher the thread count, the smoother your sheets will stay over time. Lower thread counts may get rough after several washes and irritate your skin. Bamboo and silk are also good options for bedding but can be harder to care for.

Loose-fitting clothing will be most comfortable for you if you have eczema.

Loosen Up

Tight clothes and elastics pinch or rub your skin and make it itch. Look for loose-fitting styles that will go easy on your eczema. If you wear a necktie for work, leave the top button of your shirt undone. Choose shorts and underwear with fabric-covered elastic waistbands. When it comes to bras, simpler styles are better. Better yet, go braless if you can.

Wash new clothes before you wear them to remove harsh chemicals that can irritate skin.

Wash New Clothes Before Wearing

Harsh chemicals make their way onto clothes as they're made, packaged, and shipped. These can irritate your skin, so wash any new clothes before you wear them. An unscented, mild detergent is best. A second rinse cycle can't hurt.

Cut off tags and labels that may itch your skin and place silk over pant seams to reduce the risk of irritation.

Itch-Proof Your Clothes

When your skin is sensitive, even one seam or a small tag can make you itch. Cut off labels and tags from your clothes before you wear them. Pant seams can be covered with strips of silk. And for clothes like PJs, that you wear only at home, turn them inside out so you don't feel the itchy insides.

Apply moisturizer and cotton gloves on damp hands to soothe eczema.

Wear Gloves While You Sleep

Have eczema on your hands? Think of bedtime as a chance to help heal those areas. Before bed, quickly soak your hands in warm -- not hot -- water. Put on a fragrance-free moisturizing cream, ointment, or prescription cream, and then pop on a pair of cotton gloves. The moisture will be locked into your skin while you sleep.

Fingerless gloves help protect your hands while still allowing you to work.

Wear Fingerless Gloves

To keep from scratching eczema on your hands and wrists while you work, try fingerless gloves. They'll protect your skin while letting you type on your keyboard or use your phone.

Take a lukewarm shower in the evening and slather on lotion afterwards to keep skin hydrated.

Shower at Night

When you shower before bed and then slather on cream or ointment right after, your skin seals in the moisture -- and you feel less itchy all night. Remember to use lukewarm (not hot) water and to keep your shower short. Aim for 15 minutes or less. Put on cream within 3 minutes of patting your skin dry. Give it a chance to soak in before you get dressed for bed.

Use gentle, fragrance-free soaps and cleansers that are mild enough for your sensitive skin.

Use Gentle Soaps

Whether you're washing your hands in the kitchen or taking a bath, gentle soaps are key. Use brands that are free of alcohol, retinoids, and alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), all of which dry out your skin. Steer clear of fragrances too. The chemicals in them can anger your skin.

If grass, rough carpet or upholstered furniture make you itchy, put a towel down before you sit on them.

Watch Where You Sit

Grass, rough carpet, and scratchy upholstered furniture can irritate bare skin. If you can't avoid sitting on a prickly surface, put a towel or blanket down first.

Take several breaks throughout the day to fight stress, which may make eczema worse.

Find Ways to Relax

Stress can make your eczema itch more. Carve out time every day to unwind, even if you have only a few minutes. Download a meditation app. Go for a walk. Listen to your favorite music or a funny podcast -- anything that can distract you and lift your mood. If nothing seems to ease your tension, you may find it helpful to talk with a counselor.

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REFERENCES:

  • Cutaneous Lymphoma Foundation: "Do You Recommend the Use of Cold Compresses?"
  • National Eczema Foundation: "Eczema and Bathing."
  • National Jewish Health: "Eczema: Lifestyle Management," "Eczema: Triggers."
  • National Eczema Association: "Eczema and Emotional Wellness," "Basic Skin Care for Eczema: A Dermatologist's Review."
  • Allergy & Asthma Network: "Coping with Eczema."
  • National Eczema Society: "Eczema-Friendly Bedding," "Clothes Make the (Wo)Man."
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