If you have eczema, it’s important to be aware of the things you should avoid doing to protect your skin and prevent flare-ups. Whether you’ve been dealing with eczema for a while or recently diagnosed, understanding what not to do is crucial in managing this condition. In this article, we will explore some common mistakes you should steer clear of if you want to keep your eczema under control and achieve healthier, more comfortable skin. So, let’s dive into the do’s and don’ts that can make a real difference in managing your eczema effectively.
Using Harsh Soaps and Detergents
Avoid using soap with strong fragrances
When you have eczema, it’s important to be mindful of the products you use on your skin. Soap with strong fragrances can be harsh and irritating, making your eczema symptoms worse. These fragrances often contain chemicals that can strip your skin of its natural oils and disrupt the balance, leading to dryness and inflammation. Opt for gentle, fragrance-free soaps that are specifically formulated for sensitive skin.
Avoid using antibacterial or medicated soaps
While it may seem like a good idea to use antibacterial or medicated soaps to keep your eczema-prone skin clean, these products can do more harm than good. The ingredients in these soaps, such as triclosan or benzoyl peroxide, can be harsh and drying, stripping away the protective barrier of your skin. This can further irritate your eczema and make it more difficult for your skin to heal. Stick to mild, moisturizing soaps that are free from harsh chemicals.
Do not use detergents with harsh chemicals
When doing laundry, it’s important to choose detergents that are gentle on your skin. Harsh chemicals and additives, such as fragrances or dyes, can irritate your eczema and cause flare-ups. Opt for fragrance-free, hypoallergenic detergents that are specifically designed for sensitive skin. Additionally, avoid using fabric softeners as they can also contain irritants that may aggravate your eczema.
Taking Hot Showers or Baths
Avoid prolonged exposure to hot water
While a hot shower or bath may feel soothing, it can actually worsen your eczema symptoms. Hot water can strip your skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation. It’s important to keep your showers and baths lukewarm and limit the time spent in water. Aim for showers that are around 10-15 minutes and avoid soaking for long periods.
Do not use hot water to wash affected areas
When washing the areas affected by eczema, it’s best to avoid hot water altogether. Instead, use lukewarm water to cleanse your skin. Hot water can further dry out your skin and exacerbate the itching and inflammation associated with eczema. Gently pat your skin dry with a soft towel after washing, avoiding any rubbing or friction.
Avoid steam rooms and saunas
While steam rooms and saunas may be relaxing, the high temperatures and humidity can trigger eczema flare-ups. The excessive heat can cause your skin to become more sensitive and prone to irritation. It’s best to avoid these environments if you have eczema and opt for a cooler, more comfortable setting.
Scratching the Itchy Skin
Do not scratch affected areas
One of the most important things you can do when you have eczema is to resist the urge to scratch your itchy skin. Scratching may provide temporary relief, but it can actually worsen the condition by damaging the skin barrier and triggering more intense itching. Instead, try using other methods to alleviate the itch, such as applying a cool compress or using over-the-counter anti-itch creams.
Avoid using sharp objects to relieve itching
While it may be tempting to use sharp objects like nails or pins to scratch your eczema-affected skin, this can lead to a host of other problems. Scratching with sharp objects can break the skin, increasing the risk of infection and scarring. It’s important to find alternative itch relief methods that won’t cause harm to your skin.
Avoid excessive rubbing or friction
When dealing with itchy skin, it’s vital to avoid excessive rubbing or friction. Rough rubbing can further irritate your eczema and worsen the inflammation. Instead, gently pat or dab your skin when drying off or applying skincare products. Additionally, opt for soft, breathable fabrics that minimize friction against your skin.
Wearing Irritating Fabrics
Avoid synthetic fabrics like polyester
Certain fabrics can be irritating to eczema-prone skin, so it’s important to choose your clothing wisely. Synthetic fabrics like polyester can trap heat and moisture against your skin, increasing the likelihood of eczema flare-ups. Opt for natural, breathable fabrics like cotton or bamboo, which allow your skin to breathe and help regulate body temperature.
Do not wear wool or rough materials
While wool may be warm and cozy, it can be incredibly itchy and irritating for those with eczema. The rough fibers of wool can aggravate the skin and trigger flare-ups. Similarly, any rough or scratchy materials should be avoided, as they can cause unnecessary friction and further irritate your eczema.
Avoid tight-fitting clothes
Tight-fitting clothes can rub against your skin and exacerbate eczema symptoms. The friction caused by tight clothes can lead to itching, inflammation, and irritation. Opt for loose-fitting clothing that allows your skin to breathe and move freely. This reduces the likelihood of aggravating your eczema and promotes better overall comfort.
Exposing Skin to Extreme Temperatures
Do not expose your skin to extreme cold
Extreme cold temperatures can have a detrimental effect on eczema-prone skin. Cold air can be drying and irritating, leading to increased redness, itching, and flakiness. Protect your skin by wearing warm clothing, including gloves, scarves, and hats, when venturing out into cold weather. Additionally, try to limit your time spent outdoors during periods of extreme cold.
Avoid excessive heat and sun exposure
Excessive heat, such as from heated environments or exposure to direct sunlight, can worsen eczema symptoms. Heat can cause your skin to become flushed, itchy, and more susceptible to irritation. To protect your skin, avoid spending prolonged periods in hot settings and make sure to apply sunscreen with a high SPF to shield your skin from harmful UV rays.
Avoid sudden temperature changes
Sudden changes in temperature can also trigger eczema flare-ups. Going from a hot environment to a cold one, or vice versa, can cause your blood vessels to constrict or dilate rapidly, causing your skin to become more sensitive and reactive. Try to maintain a consistent environment, and if you need to transition between different temperatures, do so gradually.
Using Strong Fragrances and Perfumes
Avoid using scented lotions and creams
Scented lotions and creams may smell nice, but the fragrances can exacerbate eczema symptoms. These fragrances often contain irritants that can cause redness, itching, and inflammation. It’s best to opt for fragrance-free moisturizers that are specifically formulated for sensitive skin. This way, you can moisturize your skin without the risk of further irritation.
Do not wear perfumes or colognes
Perfumes and colognes can contain a range of chemicals and fragrances that can irritate sensitive skin. These scented products may trigger eczema flare-ups or worsen existing symptoms. It’s best to avoid wearing perfumes or colognes directly on your skin. Instead, opt for fragrance-free alternatives or apply scents to your clothing or hair.
Avoid using heavily scented laundry products
The fragrance in your laundry products, such as detergent, fabric softener, or dryer sheets, can transfer to your clothes and potentially irritate your eczema-prone skin. Choose fragrance-free options when doing laundry and avoid using fabric softeners altogether. This will help minimize the risk of exposing your skin to unnecessary irritants.
Do not neglect moisturizing your skin regularly
Moisturizing is a crucial part of managing eczema. Skipping regular moisturization can lead to dryness, itching, and flaking, making your eczema symptoms worse. Apply a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic moisturizer to your skin at least twice daily, focusing on the areas most affected by eczema. This will help lock in moisture and maintain a healthy skin barrier.
Avoid using moisturizers with irritants
When selecting a moisturizer, it’s important to read the labels and avoid products that contain irritants such as fragrances or harsh chemicals. These ingredients can further irritate your eczema and potentially cause an allergic reaction. Look for moisturizers that are specifically formulated for sensitive skin and have a minimal ingredient list.
Don’t forget to moisturize after bathing or washing
After bathing or washing your hands, it’s important to replenish the moisture that was lost during the process. Pat your skin dry gently and immediately apply a moisturizer to retain moisture and prevent dryness. This simple step can go a long way in keeping your skin hydrated and reducing eczema flare-ups.
Ignoring Stress and Emotional Triggers
Avoid ignoring stress and emotional triggers
Stress and strong emotions can have a significant impact on eczema. For many individuals, stress can worsen eczema symptoms and trigger flare-ups. It’s important to be mindful of your stress levels and take steps to manage and reduce stress in your life. Practice relaxation techniques, engage in regular physical activity, and seek support from loved ones or professionals if needed.
Do not neglect self-care practices
Taking care of yourself is essential when you have eczema. Engage in activities that promote relaxation and overall well-being. This can include things like practicing mindfulness, enjoying a hobby, or taking time for yourself to recharge. By prioritizing self-care practices, you can help alleviate stress and improve your eczema symptoms.
Avoid situations that cause anxiety or emotional distress
Certain situations or environments can trigger anxiety or emotional distress, which in turn can worsen your eczema. It’s important to identify these triggers and take steps to avoid or minimize exposure to them. This may involve setting boundaries, seeking support, or making changes to your daily routine. Prioritizing your mental well-being can have a positive impact on your eczema management.
Using Harsh Cleaning Products
Avoid using strong chemicals for cleaning
Cleaning products that contain strong chemicals can be harsh on your skin, especially if you have eczema. These chemicals can irritate and dry out your skin, leading to increased eczema symptoms. Opt for natural or mild cleaning products that are free from harsh chemicals. This will help protect your skin while keeping your environment clean.
Do not use cleaning products without gloves
When using cleaning products, it’s important to protect your hands from potential irritants. Consider wearing gloves to shield your skin from exposure to harsh chemicals. This will help minimize the risk of irritation and prevent eczema flare-ups on your hands or other parts of your body that may come into contact with the cleaning products.
Avoid exposure to solvents and strong odors
Solvents and strong odors, such as those found in paint thinner or strong cleaning agents, can be extremely irritating to eczema-prone skin. These substances can trigger inflammation and cause eczema flare-ups. Whenever possible, avoid exposure to solvents and strong odors or ensure proper ventilation if you must use these substances in your environment.
Neglecting Professional Medical Advice
Do not ignore advice from healthcare professionals
When you have eczema, it’s important to seek guidance and follow the advice of healthcare professionals. They have the expertise to provide you with the best treatment plan for your specific condition. Ignoring their advice or self-diagnosing and self-medicating can lead to ineffective or potentially harmful outcomes. Trust the expertise of healthcare professionals and work collaboratively with them to manage your eczema effectively.
Avoid self-diagnosis or self-medication
It can be tempting to try to diagnose and treat your eczema on your own, especially with the vast amount of information available online. However, self-diagnosis and self-medication can often lead to incorrect or ineffective treatment. Eczema can have various triggers and severity levels, so it’s important to consult a healthcare professional who can accurately diagnose your condition and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
Follow the prescribed treatment plan
Healthcare professionals may recommend a specific treatment plan to manage your eczema. It’s important to follow their recommendations diligently. This may include using prescribed medications, following a skincare routine, or making lifestyle changes. Consistency and adherence to the treatment plan are key to effectively managing your eczema and reducing flare-ups. If you have any concerns or questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider for clarity.