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If you suffer from eczema, you know the struggle can be real.
Eczema, a condition that causes skin problems such as red or discolored, itchy rashes, can affect people differently, so eczema skin care doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all answer. From dander to breakouts, caring for eczema-prone skin takes effort…and sometimes trial and error.
Looking for the right skin care routine for your eczema? There are some steps you can take to soothe (and often prevent!) symptoms, even when a flare-up occurs.
Dry skin needs moisture – and it’s no different when that dryness is caused by eczema.
In a small research review of 77 studies, regular use of moisturizer significantly reduced the number of flare-ups participants had. It also reduced their need for harsh corticosteroids.
Keeping your skin hydrated with a dense cream or ointment helps relieve irritation and soothe any breakouts that may appear. It also keeps that itchy feeling at bay, so you don’t find yourself scratching. Itchy skin could make your eczema worse.
Pro tip: The National Eczema Association recommends applying moisturizer within 3 minutes after a shower or bath. This helps lock in moisture and prevents water from evaporating from your skin.
No two cases of eczema are exactly the same, and neither are their triggers. Identifying the causes of your skin irritation can help you better understand your eczema and show you what to avoid to prevent flare-ups.
Eczema can be caused by a number of things, from irritating chemicals or fabrics to certain foods. Even stress or the weather can cause a flare-up.
According to the National Eczema Association, some of the most common eczema triggers include:
- metals (like nickel)
- dyes in clothing, leather, or temporary tattoos
- fabrics (like wool)
- some soaps
- some household cleaners
- bacitracin and other antibacterial ointments
Food allergies are also linked to eczema, so it’s important to know what foods you may be sensitive to to maintain healthy skin. Certain foods (like nuts, dairy, and gluten) have been known to trigger an eczema flare-up. Others are known to help relieve the condition. A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, omega-3s, and probiotics could help lessen or prevent flare-ups.
Pro tip: Keep a notebook or journal (or just your phone’s notepad) handy at all times, so you can track your triggers whenever an irritation occurs, even on the go.
Do you like a luxurious soak in a hot tub after a long day? If you suffer from eczema, it is best to swap that hot water for something closer to hot and further from boiling. Hot water can strip your skin’s natural oils, leaving it unprotected. This can lead to dryness and irritation. Reducing heat can help your skin absorb and retain moisture.
Experts also recommend taking it easy on the length of your scrub session. They suggest that a 5-10 minute shower or bath is the sweet spot for primo skin care. After washing, be sure to pat (not rub) yourself with a clean towel and apply moisturizer within 3 minutes to keep your skin hydrated and fresh.
Pro tip: Want to make bath time even more eczema-friendly? Try a skin-soothing oatmeal bath.
Just as it’s good to know what’s going on *in* your body, it’s also important to know what’s going *onto* it. This includes the products you use.
Personal care and beauty products may contain harsh or irritating ingredients. These can make an existing eczema worse or lead to a new outbreak. According to the National Eczema Association, this can include:
Look closely at the label to understand what your favorite face washes, cleansers, shampoos and deodorants contain. You may not realize that one of your go-to products could be aggravating your skin.
An easy way to spot skin-friendly products is to look for the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance. Products that earn this seal are already checked for known irritants, making them a safe bet for use by even the most sensitive skin types.
Pro tip: Choose skin care products labeled “fragrance-free” instead of “fragrance-free”. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, unscented products *can* contain fragrance that’s harmful to the skin — it’s just masked so you can’t smell it.
It’s important not to just show your skin some attention when you’re having a flare-up. Try treating eczema relief and prevention as a full-time job. Forming habits of avoiding irritants and promoting soothing hydration will help prevent or minimize symptoms so you can have happier, more hydrated skin.
Establish a regular routine, with set times to cleanse, moisturize and treat your skin. Typically you’ll do this in the morning and evening, but some people may find they need to add extra care throughout the day. Choose what works best for you and your skin.
Sometimes the same routine can get boring. Or, some go-to products just don’t work the way they once did for your skin. It is very good.
It’s OK to try new products (just look at that label first!) or add or subtract steps if you think it’ll be better for your skin. Just keep your skin’s needs in mind and proceed with a keen eye.
Pro tip: Many people are prone to flare-ups during the winter months, thanks to the cold, dry weather. Unless you have the luxury of observing the snows throughout your life (#Goals), you may need to rotate your routine. Consider switching to a heavier moisturizer and avoiding irritating fabrics (we see you, wool) when lying on layers during the cold season.
Best moisturizer for eczema: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
CeraVe products might be a go-to for people struggling with dry skin. The brand touts a rich, non-greasy consistency, easy absorption, and skin-soothing ingredients. It’s no wonder CeraVe Moisturizing Cream is recommended by dermatologists and Approved by the National Eczema Association.
Not only is CeraVe Moisturizing Cream rich in helpful ceramides, it also contains hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is known to be a powerful moisturizing ingredient. A small study even suggested that it might be effective specifically in relieving the symptoms of eczema.
This moisturizer can be applied as often as needed and tends to work best when used directly after cleansing (but before makeup, if that’s your jam).
Although not the cheapest option, many reviewers say this cream is definitely worth it. Users find that a little goes a long way with this moisturizer and love that it does double duty (suitable for both face and body).
Best face wash for eczema: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
When it comes to ultra-mild facial cleansers, Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser has you covered. This tried and true product seems to have been around forever – and for good reason. Made with just eight ingredients, this hydrating cleanser is specially designed for sensitive skin. It is soap-free, fragrance-free and does not dry out.
While it’s not your best bet for removing stubborn makeup (a gentle makeup remover wipe or micellar water can help!), reviewers say this face wash can leave your skin feeling clean and hydrated. You can use it day and night – or whenever you need a cleansing refreshment during the day.
This Cetaphil cleanser gets bonus points because you can use it with or without water – great for when you’re in a hurry or can’t get to a sink. Just cleanse, moisturize and go!
It’s important to establish healthy habits when it comes to caring for eczema-prone skin. Keeping skin hydrated, avoiding irritants, and developing a skincare routine can all help prevent or manage flare-ups.
Speak to your dermatologist if you need help or advice to manage your eczema or if your flare-ups are getting worse.