What Helps Severe Eczema Flare Ups?

Are you tired of dealing with severe eczema flare-ups? Whether it’s itchy, red, or inflamed skin, finding relief can be a challenge. But don’t worry, help is on the way. In this article, we will explore some effective methods to calm your eczema flare-ups and restore your skin’s health. From gentle skincare routines to natural remedies, we’ve got you covered. So sit back, relax, and get ready to discover what truly helps alleviate those pesky flare-ups!

Medical Treatments

Topical Steroids

If you’re experiencing a severe eczema flare-up, your doctor may recommend using topical steroids. These medications can help reduce inflammation, relieve itchiness, and promote healing. Topical steroids come in different strengths, ranging from mild to strong, and should be used as directed by your healthcare provider. It’s important to note that prolonged use of high-strength steroids may have potential side effects, so it’s crucial to follow your doctor’s instructions and use them sparingly.

Topical Calcineurin Inhibitors

Another option for managing severe eczema flare-ups is using topical calcineurin inhibitors. These medications work by suppressing the immune response in the skin and reducing inflammation. Unlike steroids, they can be used on more sensitive areas of the body, such as the face and neck. Topical calcineurin inhibitors are typically recommended when steroids aren’t suitable or if you’re looking for an alternative treatment option. Again, it’s important to use these medications as directed and discuss any concerns with your doctor.

Oral Antihistamines

For severe itching caused by eczema flare-ups, oral antihistamines can provide relief. These medications block the effects of histamine, a substance released during an allergic reaction that can trigger itchiness. Whether you opt for over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines, make sure to consult with your healthcare provider to determine the best option for you. It’s essential to note that while antihistamines can help alleviate itchiness, they won’t treat the underlying cause of eczema.

Systemic Corticosteroids

In severe cases of eczema flare-ups that don’t respond well to topical treatments, systemic corticosteroids may be recommended by your doctor. These medications are taken orally or by injection and are designed to reduce inflammation throughout the body. Because systemic corticosteroids can have significant side effects, they are typically reserved for short-term use and in more severe cases. It’s crucial to closely follow your doctor’s instructions and discuss any potential risks and benefits.


If other treatments haven’t provided sufficient relief or are not suitable, immunosuppressants may be considered for severe eczema flare-ups. These medications work by suppressing the immune system, reducing the inflammatory response in the skin. Immunosuppressants are usually prescribed for short-term use due to potential side effects, and regular monitoring is necessary. As with any medication, it’s essential to have an open discussion with your doctor to weigh the benefits and risks before starting this treatment.

Moisturizers and Emollients


Using moisturizers and emollients on a regular basis is essential for managing eczema, especially during severe flare-ups. Creams are a common form of moisturizer that is water-based and absorbs quickly into the skin. Look for creams that are fragrance-free and specifically formulated for sensitive or eczema-prone skin. Applying a cream after bathing or showering can help lock in moisture and prevent dryness and irritation.


Ointments are another option for moisturizing during severe eczema flare-ups. They have a higher oil content compared to creams, creating a thicker barrier on the skin to trap moisture. Ointments are beneficial for extremely dry and cracked skin, providing intense hydration and helping to alleviate discomfort. However, keep in mind that they may feel greasier and take longer to absorb. Like creams, choose ointments that are fragrance-free and suitable for sensitive skin.


If you prefer a lighter texture, lotions can be a suitable choice for moisturizing during eczema flare-ups. Lotions are usually water-based and have a lower oil content, making them easier to spread and absorb quickly. Look for lotions that are specifically formulated for sensitive skin and free from fragrances or known irritants. While lotions may not provide the same level of hydration as creams or ointments, they can still help soothe the skin and relieve dryness.

Best Ingredients

When selecting moisturizers and emollients for severe eczema flare-ups, it’s crucial to pay attention to the ingredients. Look for products that contain gentle and nourishing ingredients, such as ceramides, hyaluronic acid, shea butter, and glycerin. These ingredients help restore and maintain the skin’s natural barrier, locking in moisture and preventing further dryness. Avoid products with added fragrances, dyes, or harsh chemicals, as they can potentially irritate the skin and worsen eczema symptoms.

Frequency of Application

To effectively manage severe eczema flare-ups, it’s important to apply moisturizers and emollients frequently throughout the day. Ideally, moisturize at least twice a day or as directed by your healthcare provider. Additionally, applying a thin layer of moisturizer immediately after bathing or showering when your skin is still damp can help seal in the moisture. If your eczema flares up during the night, consider applying an extra layer of moisturizer before bed and wearing breathable cotton gloves or socks to lock in the hydration.

Avoiding Triggers

Common Triggers

One of the key strategies for managing severe eczema flare-ups is to identify and avoid common triggers. While triggers can vary from person to person, some common ones include irritants like harsh soaps, detergents, and fragrances. Allergens such as pollen, pet dander, and certain foods can also trigger eczema symptoms. Extreme temperatures, including hot weather and excessive sweating, can exacerbate flare-ups. Stress and anxiety are known triggers for many individuals with eczema as well.

Identifying Personal Triggers

In addition to the common triggers, it’s important to identify your personal triggers. Keep a diary or journal to track any activities, foods, or environmental factors that seem to worsen your eczema symptoms. By paying close attention to your body’s response, you may be able to identify triggers that are unique to you. It can be helpful to consult with a dermatologist or allergist who can provide guidance and conduct tests, such as patch testing or blood tests, to identify specific allergens that may contribute to your eczema flare-ups.

Avoidance Strategies

Once you’ve identified your triggers, the next step is to develop effective avoidance strategies. If irritants like harsh soaps or detergents trigger your eczema, consider switching to milder, fragrance-free alternatives. Avoiding known allergens, such as staying away from certain foods or avoiding contact with pets, can also help minimize flare-ups. During extreme weather conditions, take precautions to protect your skin, such as using sunscreen, wearing breathable clothing, and staying hydrated. Additionally, finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as through relaxation techniques or support groups, can contribute to reducing eczema triggers.

Wet Wrap Therapy

What is Wet Wrap Therapy?

Wet wrap therapy is a technique used to manage severe eczema flare-ups by providing intensive hydration and reducing inflammation. It involves applying a layer of moisturizer or emollient to the affected areas and then wrapping them with dampened bandages or clothing. The moisture from the bandages helps the skin absorb the moisturizer more effectively while creating a barrier to prevent scratching and further damage.

How to Do Wet Wrap Therapy

To perform wet wrap therapy, start by taking a lukewarm bath or shower to hydrate the skin. After patting your skin dry, apply a generous amount of moisturizer or emollient to the affected areas. Next, dampen bandages or clothing with lukewarm water and gently wrap them around the moisturized areas. Make sure the bandages aren’t too tight, as this can restrict blood flow. Leave the wet wraps on for a minimum of two hours or overnight, depending on your comfort and the severity of the flare-up. After removing the bandages, apply a fresh layer of moisturizer to keep the skin hydrated.

Benefits and Risks

Wet wrap therapy offers several benefits for severe eczema flare-ups. It helps moisturize the skin deeply, reducing dryness and itchiness. The wet wraps also have a cooling effect, which can provide relief from the discomfort of eczema. Additionally, wet wrap therapy reduces the risk of scratching, preventing further damage and infection. However, it’s important to use caution when performing this therapy. Make sure the bandages or clothing are not too tight to prevent circulation issues, and be cautious of any discomfort or worsening symptoms. Consult with your healthcare provider to ensure that wet wrap therapy is suitable for you and to learn how to properly perform this technique.

Bathing and Showering Tips

Water Temperature

When experiencing severe eczema flare-ups, it’s crucial to pay attention to the water temperature during bathing and showering. Opt for lukewarm water instead of hot water, as hot water can strip the skin of moisture and exacerbate dryness. Lukewarm water helps hydrate the skin without further irritating or drying it out.

Limited Time

While a long, relaxing soak may sound tempting, it’s best to keep bathing and showering times limited during severe eczema flare-ups. Prolonged exposure to water can actually contribute to dryness and worsen eczema symptoms. Aim for quick showers or baths, lasting no longer than 10-15 minutes, to minimize the impact on your skin.

Gentle Cleansers

Choosing the right cleanser is essential for managing severe eczema flare-ups. Opt for gentle, fragrance-free cleansers that are specifically formulated for sensitive or eczema-prone skin. Harsh soaps or body washes can strip the skin of natural oils and disrupt the skin’s barrier, leading to increased dryness and irritations.

Moisturizing After Bath

After bathing or showering, it’s crucial to moisturize your skin to lock in hydration. Pat your skin dry gently with a soft towel, leaving a bit of moisture on the skin. Then, apply a generous amount of moisturizer or emollient to damp skin, focusing on the areas prone to eczema flare-ups. This helps seal in the moisture provided by the water and prevents dryness.

Avoiding Irritants

Harsh Soaps and Detergents

During severe eczema flare-ups, it’s important to avoid harsh soaps and detergents that can further irritate the skin. Look for gentle cleansers specifically formulated for sensitive or eczema-prone skin. These products are typically free from fragrances, dyes, and other potential irritants that can trigger eczema symptoms.

Synthetic Fabrics

Certain clothing materials, such as synthetic fabrics like polyester or nylon, can worsen eczema flare-ups. These materials can irritate the skin and trap heat and moisture, leading to increased itching and discomfort. Instead, opt for natural fabrics like cotton or bamboo, which are breathable and less likely to cause irritation.

Stressful Situations

Stress is a common trigger for eczema flare-ups, so it’s important to avoid or minimize stressful situations as much as possible. Incorporate stress management techniques into your daily routine, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. By managing stress, you can help reduce the severity and frequency of eczema flare-ups.

Dry Indoor Air

During the winter months or in dry climates, the indoor air tends to be drier, which can exacerbate eczema symptoms. Install a humidifier in your home to add moisture to the air and maintain a more comfortable humidity level. This can help prevent excessive dryness and soothe your skin during severe eczema flare-ups.

Dietary Adjustments

Elimination Diets

In some cases, certain foods can trigger eczema flare-ups in individuals who have specific food sensitivities or allergies. Elimination diets involve removing potential trigger foods from your diet for a period of time and then gradually reintroducing them to determine if they contribute to your eczema symptoms. If you suspect that certain foods may be aggravating your eczema, consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian before making any significant dietary changes.

Food Allergy Testing

Food allergy testing can help identify if you have any specific food allergies that may be triggering your eczema flare-ups. Tests can include blood tests, skin prick tests, or oral food challenges. If you suspect food allergies may be contributing to your eczema, consult with an allergist or immunologist to explore further testing options.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, as well as flaxseeds and walnuts, have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce eczema symptoms. Adding foods rich in omega-3s to your diet or taking omega-3 supplements (under the guidance of a healthcare professional) may provide some relief during severe eczema flare-ups.


Probiotics are live bacteria or yeast that can have numerous health benefits, including supporting the immune system and maintaining a healthy gut. Some studies suggest that taking probiotics may help improve eczema symptoms, especially in infants and young children. If considering probiotics, consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate strains and dosage for your specific needs.

Managing Stress

Stress and Eczema

Stress and eczema often go hand in hand, as stress can trigger and worsen eczema flare-ups. Finding effective ways to manage stress is crucial for reducing the severity and frequency of severe eczema flare-ups. Understanding your stress triggers and implementing stress management techniques can significantly impact your overall well-being and eczema symptoms.

Relaxation Techniques

Incorporating relaxation techniques into your daily routine can help manage stress and potentially alleviate severe eczema flare-ups. Try deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, or yoga to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety. Engaging in activities you enjoy, such as reading, painting, or listening to music, can also help reduce stress levels.


Regular physical activity not only promotes overall health but can also aid in stress management. Engaging in activities like walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling can help release endorphins, known as “feel-good” hormones, which can improve mood and reduce stress. However, be mindful of your eczema during exercise and take necessary precautions, such as wearing breathable clothing and moisturizing before and after workouts.

Support Groups

Joining a support group or seeking therapy can provide valuable emotional support when dealing with severe eczema flare-ups. Connecting with others who understand your challenges and sharing experiences can help reduce feelings of isolation and provide practical tips for managing eczema. Support groups can be found both in person and online, allowing individuals from all over to come together and support one another.


What is Phototherapy?

Phototherapy, also known as light therapy, is a treatment option for severe eczema flare-ups where specific wavelengths of light are used to reduce inflammation and ease symptoms. The most common form of phototherapy for eczema is narrowband ultraviolet B (UVB) therapy, which involves exposing the skin to UVB light for a specified duration.

Types of Phototherapy

In addition to narrowband UVB therapy, other types of phototherapy may be used depending on your specific needs and circumstances. PUVA (psoralen plus ultraviolet A) therapy combines UVA light exposure with a medication called psoralen, which sensitizes the skin to the light. Excimer laser therapy uses a focused beam of UVB light to treat specific areas of affected skin. Your healthcare provider will determine the most suitable type of phototherapy for your eczema condition.

Benefits and Risks

Phototherapy has shown promising results in managing severe eczema flare-ups for individuals who haven’t responded well to other treatments. It can provide relief from inflammation, control symptoms, and reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups. However, like any medical treatment, there are potential risks and side effects associated with phototherapy. This can include skin redness, itching, sunburn, and an increased risk of skin cancer with long-term or excessive exposure to UV light. It’s crucial to discuss the benefits and risks with your healthcare provider and follow their recommendations closely.


Phototherapy treatments are typically performed under medical supervision and may require frequent appointments. Depending on your location and healthcare provider, phototherapy may be available at specialized dermatology clinics, hospitals, or private medical centers. Your healthcare provider will determine the best course of action based on your specific needs and the availability of phototherapy in your area.

Alternative Therapies

Natural Remedies

Natural remedies, such as applying coconut oil or aloe vera gel, are commonly used by individuals seeking additional relief from severe eczema flare-ups. These remedies may provide temporary relief and hydration to the skin. However, it’s important to note that natural remedies may not have sufficient scientific evidence to support their efficacy, and they may not be suitable for everyone. Consult with your healthcare provider before incorporating natural remedies into your eczema management plan.

Herbal Supplements

Some herbal supplements, such as evening primrose oil or St. John’s wort, have been explored for their potential benefits in managing eczema symptoms. However, studies on the effectiveness of herbal supplements for eczema are limited, and their safety and interactions with other medications may vary. It’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any herbal supplements to ensure they are safe and appropriate for your individual circumstances.


Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medicine practice that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body, is sometimes considered as an alternative therapy for managing eczema symptoms. While some individuals may find acupuncture helpful in reducing itching and inflammation, more research is needed to fully understand its documented benefits and mechanisms of action. If considering acupuncture, consult with a qualified practitioner who has experience in treating eczema.


Homeopathy is a holistic system of medicine that uses highly diluted substances to stimulate the body’s own healing response. Some individuals may turn to homeopathy as a complementary therapy for eczema, but it’s essential to consult with a qualified homeopath to determine the appropriate remedies and dosages. As with any alternative therapy, it’s important to have an open discussion with your healthcare provider and ensure that homeopathy does not replace conventional medical treatments.

In conclusion, severe eczema flare-ups can be challenging to manage, but there are a variety of treatment options available. Medical treatments, such as topical steroids, topical calcineurin inhibitors, oral antihistamines, systemic corticosteroids, and immunosuppressants, can help alleviate symptoms and reduce inflammation. Moisturizers and emollients, including creams, ointments, and lotions, provide crucial hydration to the skin. Avoiding triggers, including common irritants and personal triggers, can help prevent flare-ups. Wet wrap therapy, bathing and showering tips, and avoiding irritants can also provide relief. Dietary adjustments, managing stress, phototherapy, and alternative therapies may be additional measures to consider. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider to develop a comprehensive plan tailored to your specific needs. With the right strategies and support, you can effectively manage severe eczema flare-ups and improve your quality of life.