Showertime for anyone with eczema is a bit of a double-edged sword. The water can provide great relief by hydrating the skin and temporarily soothing the infamous eczema itch, but it may also irritate or dry out the skin if you don’t take certain precautions.
Here’s how to shower or bathe with eczema without drying out your skin, according to dermatologist Suzanne Friedler, MD, of the Mount Sinai Hospital and St. John’s Episcopal Hospital.
Pay attention to water temperature. The National Eczema Association recommends that people with eczema shower or bathe with lukewarm water, not hot. High temps can dry out the skin.
Watch the time. Long showers might feel good on dry skin, but this is actually one of the most common mistakes in eczema management. (Here are other common eczema mistakes you might be making.) Baths and showers longer than 10 or 15 minutes can dry out the skin by robbing it of its natural oils. If you’re a fan of long, candlelit baths with a good book, you’ll want to find an alternative. (Sounds like a perfect excuse to finally invest in hammock, no?)
Pick unscented or mild soaps. Look for words like dye free, fragrance free, unscented, or made for sensitive skin. All those extra ingredients can irritate sensitive skin and make eczema symptoms worse.
Skip the washcloth or loofah (aka the colorful poofy ball hanging from your shower rack). Washing up with your hands will be less irritating to your skin.
Moisturizers afterward, stat. As a general rule, you should moisturize after each time you get your skin wet (that includes washing your hands throughout the day) within three minutes. When the skin gets wet, it might lose too much of its moisture content as it dries. By using a moisturizer, you can lock in that hydration. Here’s how to pick the right moisturizer for eczema.
These tips are perfect for the everyday shower and may reduce eczema flare-ups. If your eczema frequently leads to infections, you may want to consider bleach bath therapy. Here’s the safe and derm-approved way to take a bleach bath for eczema.